With the passage of S.47, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (formerly known as the Natural Resources Management Act) on March 12, 2019, Congress has re-designated Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New Hampshire’s only unit of the National Park System, as Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park. The new name and designation take effect immediately.
“We are pleased to mark this next step in the evolution of the National Park in Cornish,” said Rick Kendall, superintendent of the park. “This change in designation is a recognition of how far the park has come in the 50 years since it was established.”
Thayer Tolles, president of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial, which partners with the park on programming and outreach, commented “This re-designation is both fitting and significant for a historic property with a broad mission to enhance enjoyment of the arts and the natural surroundings for its visitors.”
Though changing the name or designation of a unit of the National Park System requires Congressional action through the passage of a public law, many National Park Service units have seen their names change as their stories and uses have evolved over time. The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act actually changes the name or designation of 7 other National Park System units in addition to Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park.
National Historic Sites are generally small in size, consisting of only one or a few buildings or a couple of acres, and generally tell a discrete story of an individual or event. National Historical Parks are larger in size, ranging from dozens or hundreds of acres, tell a more expansive story of multiple people or historical eras, and may also be composed of non-contiguous units. The addition of the Blow-Me-Down Farm to the Saint-Gaudens site in 2010 expanded not only the park’s acreage but its story, going beyond Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his artwork to include the many artists, intellectuals, and public servants who flocked to Cornish to become part of the Cornish Colony of artists around the turn of the 20th century.
Functionally, the new designation does not change the way the park is operated, funded, or enjoyed by the public. The suite of rules and regulations governing the management of national parks will continue to be applied to the redesignated National Historical Park in Cornish. Events, programs, and practices traditional to the site and consistent with the park’s established principle to serve as a “living memorial” to Augustus Saint-Gaudens will continue as they have in the past.
Though the change in the park’s designation is immediate, it will likely take several years for references to the former designation to be changed. Signs, publications, and other references will likely be changed as part of planned replacement cycles.
Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park is located off NH Route 12A, just north of the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge. The park preserves the home, studios and grounds of the famed American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and displays the largest collection of original Saint-Gaudens artwork in the world. For more information, visit the park’s website: www.nps.gov/saga and follow the park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaintGaudensNPS