News Release Manager

Corps makes draft determination Prado Dam mural not eligible for listing on National Register

Published June 6, 2017

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District notified Ms. Julianne Polanco, the State Historic Preservation Officer, of the California Office of Historic Preservation by letter on June 6, 2017, that it has made a draft determination that the Bicentennial-themed mural on the Prado Dam spillway in Riverside County, California, does not meet the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Corps reached this conclusion after evaluating input received from consulting parties.

The Corps is providing the draft determination and supporting documentation to all consulting parties including the SHPO and will consider any additional relevant input provided by the consulting parties by July 10, 2017, prior to making a final determination.

As background, the Corps determined in 1991 that Prado Dam, including the spillway, was eligible for listing on the National Register. Although the mural was recorded as part of the spillway, it was not specifically called out as a contributing feature of the spillway or dam complex. After the Corps announced plans to remove the mural and other coatings from the spillway because of the presence of lead paint, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation recommended the Corps separately assess the eligibility of the mural for listing on the National Register due to new information, clear public support and the passage from time since the last relevant survey of historic properties. Based on this recommendation, the Corps evaluated the mural separately for eligibility for listing on the National Register.

As part of the evaluation effort, the Corps invited interested organizations, local governments and individuals to participate in the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process as consulting parties.

The Corps and the consulting parties participated in a workshop in May 2016 to assist in the eligibility determination including the development of a historic context statement that includes a thematic discussion of the U.S. Bicentennial, a comparison of artistic endeavors completed in celebration of the Bicentennial, as well as a comparison of other large-scale folk art.

While the Corps acknowledges the importance of the mural to the local community as evidenced by the 25,000-plus signatures on a petition to save the mural, the responsiveness of the consulting parties, and the ongoing public coverage of the Corps’ proposal to remove the lead paint, the Corps has preliminarily determined the mural does not meet eligibility requirements.

The National Park Service is explicit in its requirements for listing properties in the National Register.

Because of its type and age, the Prado Dam mural would have to meet the terms of two specific National Register criteria considerations in order to achieve eligibility:

•  properties that are commemorative in nature but exceptionally significant under other National Register criteria, and

•  properties that have not yet achieved fifty years of age, but have achieved exceptional importance.

Whether properties have achieved exceptional significance or importance as required by the criteria considerations is evaluated based on the National Register eligibility criteria of:

•  if they are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history,

•  if they are associated with the lives of significant persons in our past,

•  if they embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction that represent the work of a master; possess high artistic values; or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction or

• whether the property has or had information to contribute to our understanding of human history or prehistory, and secondly, whether that information is considered important.

The Corps’ draft determination concludes the Prado Dam Bicentennial-themed mural does not meet these criteria considerations or eligibility criteria.

Comments received by the Corps from the consulting parties will be forwarded to the SHPO. Following the review period, the Corps will address and incorporate any additional relevant materials received. The Corps will then provide its final determinations and findings to the SHPO for her concurrence.

Greg Fuderer
213-479-8698 (cell)

Release no. 17-013