Lounging in the 60s

Thomas Casey

b. 23 October 1924 - d. November 11, 2005


Taliesin architect

Dates of Involvement

1964 - 1967

July 1, 1964 - Department of Interior awards Taliesin architectural design services for Beaver Meadows

June 24, 1967 - Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Dedication Ceremony




The Beginning: Determining the Location of Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

Taliesin's Edmund Thomas Casey was the architect for Beaver Meadows Visitor Center at Rocky Mountain National Park. In the summer of 1964, William Wesley Peters and Casey travelled to RMNP to survey two potential sites for the visitor center, the location that was eventually chosen for Beaver Meadows and another, which was about one mile further into the park, on the opposite side of the road. The location of the visitor center was a contested matter, but record holds that Casey specifically envisioned Beaver Meadows in the precise location it occupies today. As noted in correspondence and documents concerning Beaver Meadows Visitor Center construction, Casey was limited by Superintendent Liles’ desires to improve the park’s relationship to the surrounding town of Estes Park (Allaback, 2000).


Visitor Center Construction Plans

The design of Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is strikingly similar to Taliesin West located in Scottsdale, Arizona. In their simplicity and use of natural materials, both structures draw attention to their surrounding landscape. The construction materials Casey chose for Beaver Meadows were intended to wear away naturally in time. Native stones were brought in from the nearby town of Lyons, Colorado and the exterior steel was intended to rust in order to create a brownish-purple hue in time, as noted in Casey's blueprints. As Casey recalled in a 1998 telephone interview, the Lyons stone was found in an abandoned government-run quarry, leftover from the construction of Denver’s first federal courthouse. When the Taliesin architects stumbled upon the quarry, and found the red sandstone perfectly weathered and fitting the thickness of the stairs at Beaver Meadows, all they needed to do was haul the stones to the visitor center construction site (National Historic Register Nomination, 2001).

Planning the Seating in the Visitor Center

In July 1965, Kunz Construction Company broke ground. As construction continued throughout 1966, Taliesin and RMNP superintendents began to focus their work on interior decoration. As was the practice of Wrightian design, Casey and other Taliesin architects planned the seating, tables, upholstery, wood grain, and other furnishings of Beaver Meadows. Olgivanna Lloyd Wright was intensely involved in all design aspects of Beaver Meadows. In a December 1966 letter, Superintendent Fred J. Novak wrote to Casey requesting that he provide alternate seating for the auditorium. Casey had chosen custom-made double seats for the auditorium, however Novak preferred stackable, more mobile, fiberglass chairs (National Historic Register Nomination, 2001).




Casey also worked with both Olgivanna Lloyd Wright and park administrator Dale Devine to obtain the furniture. Casey had to find a financial compromise between Wright’s choices and Federal Supply Schedule furnishing options. Casey also had the final say regarding the light, Duranodic bronze finish used on the stair handrails in the visitor center (Lee Collection, 1966). Duranodic was a common Alcoa trade name for an electrochemical treatment to aluminum that slowly developed color over time and protected against oxidation. Duranodic finish was most common in the early 1960s and was often found in storefront construction (Southern Aluminum Finishing, 2016).




After serving in the United States Air Force for five years, Casey received his B.A. in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley on January 26, 1950. In a 2004 interview, Casey recalled that in his final year at Berkeley, he and other classmates became “enamored” with the design of Frank Lloyd Wright (ROMO Archives, 2004). A month after his graduation, Casey joined the Taliesin Fellowship, later renamed the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture (National Historic Register Nomination, 2001).


Casey was an architect and structural engineer. In 1971, he was a Senior Fellow at Taliesin, supervising the construction of the Pearl Palace in Iran for Princess Shams Pahlavi, the sister of the last Shah. In 1978, he returned to Taliesin West. (Dillion, 2016).

Related Objects to Explore

Drape; Krueger Stackable Folding Chair; Oak Arm Chair; Oak Bench; Two-Seat Oak Bench

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