LOS ANGELES – The Department of the Interior determined Feb. 26 that the bicentennial-themed mural on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District's Prado Dam spillway in Riverside County, California, is not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
In the notification sent to the Corps March 1, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, Joy Beasley, said the determination was based primarily on the mural's loss of physical integrity.
"In our view, the mural is no longer able to convey its historic character or its potential significance as an exceptional representation of local bicentennial activity," Beasley said.
The Prado Dam mural was completed in 1976 as a bicentennial-themed activity undertaken by a local high school group. Painted onto the spillway apron of the dam and readily visible from passing highway traffic, the mural was a prominent visual representation of the myriad of commemorative activities associated with the celebration of the American Bicentennial.
After the Corps announced plans in October 2014 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.
According to Beasley, National Register evaluations require consideration of the property in its current condition, not as it could be restored or recreated.
"The current massive overpainting, the loss of original paint through normal wear and the addition of other non-historic graffiti have served to severely alter the mural's original design and commemorative intent," Beasley said. "As an artifact of the bicentennial, the cumulative effect of these changes has significantly impaired the property's ability to convey its historic character and significance."
The Keeper of the National Register is the final authority regarding a property’s eligibility for listing in the National Register. With this final determination, the Corps' has concluded its responsibilities to identify and evaluate historic properties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
The Department of the Interior determination of eligibility notification and supporting documentation to the State Historic Preservation Office can be found @ go.usa.gov/xEw6d.