New Deal Roadside Landscape Features

Arthur Nichols' attention to detail is illustrated in the Rustic style St. Cloud Historical Marker. Note the naturalistic stonework flanking the granite tablet.

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Assessment + Analysis
St. Cloud Historical Marker

Designed by A. R. Nichols and built in 1937, the St. Cloud Historical Marker is typical of a small site with a symmetrical design. The wayside rest was planted with American elms, silver maples, red cedars, and Chinese juniper shrubs. Its historical marker has a raised, stone-paved terrace that is surrounded on three sides by low walls. A granite tablet describes Minnesota's first granite quarry that opened just west of the site in 1868.

Not surprisingly, the entire marker is built with St. Cloud granite. What is unique is the striking stonework that features roughly-hewn, pointed blocks of granite. It is unlike any other markers in the inventory, all of which have more restrained or formal designs.

 

This 1936 drawing by Arthur Nichols includes a plan, two elevations, and this perspective sketch of the St. Cloud Historical Marker.

The study determined that this property is eligible for the National Register because of its importance to the history of roadside development and for its design quality. The statement of significance notes:

The St. Cloud Historical Marker is among the 68 Depression-era properties in the inventory that represent the Minnesota Highway Department's first large-scale effort to construct roadside development facilities in the state. The site is also important as a well-preserved example of the accomplishments of the NYA (National Youth Administration) working in cooperation with the MHD. It is an example of the distinctive and well-constructed public facilities built by the MHD in partnership with federal relief agencies that met the objectives of roadside development while providing essential work and job training to the nation's unemployed during the Great Depression.

The design of the marker is also important as an intact example of small-scale roadside parking areas that incorporate shrine-type markers. With its unusual, naturalistic design, featuring large, irregularly-cut, dark granite boulders, the marker is an excellent example of the application of the National Park Service Rustic style to an interpretive marker. The marker displays the special labor-intensive construction techniques and distinctive use of indigenous materials that characterize both the Rustic style and federal relief construction in Minnesota. Furthermore, the St. Cloud Historical Marker is an important example of the roadside development work of prominent landscape architect A.R. Nichols.

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