Lounging in the 60s

Granville Liles


Superintendent of ROMO

Dates of Involvement

1964 - 1965


As park superintendent, Granville Liles was tasked with determining the location of the new visitor center. Multiple sites had been considered with attention to road development, land acquisition, visitor movement through the park, the proximity of administrative buildings, and programmatic requirements. In the summer of 1964, Liles met with Tom Casey and William Peters of Taliesin Associated Architects to review the final two potential sites: one on the right side of the road about a mile into the park and another on the left side of the road, just outside park boundaries (Allaback, 2000). Both sites had challenges with visitor volume and spacial limitations, yet Liles was certain the site on the left side of the road had the ability to improve the relationship with nearby town, Estes Park.

The relationship between Rocky Mountain National Park (MNP) and Estes Park was very important to Liles. The proximity of Estes Park allowed for visitor accommodations and other services to be located outside park boundaries. Since the park’s founding in 1915, several different headquarters and offices for RMNP had been located in Estes Park, giving residents a sense of ownership and investment in Rocky's success. Liles believed that the visitor center should give back to Estes Park by providing a space for events and meetings (National Historic Register Nomination, 2001). Beaver Meadows' large auditorium was included specifically with community use in mind and the location beyond park boundaries – allowing residents access without going into the park – reflects the importance Liles placed on the Estes Park residents' acceptance of Mission 66 developments.

Liles’ influence went beyond the location and further into the details and features within the new headquarters building. The role of contract client proved challenging for Liles as planning details required a great deal of his attention in addition to the traditional superintendent duties. Tom Casey worked closely with Liles to resolve the issues that arose during the design and construction process for Beaver Meadows, but it was not a perfect relationship. For example, Liles dismissal of a traditional, air conditioning system due to Rocky’s high elevation was deemed a serious oversight by National Park Service officials, who also blamed Casey and the Taliesin team for not countering the mistake (National Historic Register Nomination, 2001). This issue was not identified until well after construction began, leaving little space or money for corrections.

Liles also encountered challenges with the auditorium. The original plans had the projection screen too high and the projection booth off-center in the room, both challenging issues when faced with daily use (Lee Collection, 1966). The projection screen was corrected while the projection booth remained uncentered due to challenges with the balcony. The balcony, where the projection booth was located, had an entrance from the exterior wrap-around porch (Allaback, 2000). This meant that the numerous cords and cables required for the sound system and power had to be secured to prevent visitors from tripping over them. The original plans did not have any provisions for a speaker system, an interesting oversight given the emphasis on allowing the public to use the auditorium for meetings and other functions (Lee Collection, n. d.). The RMNP promotional film was also intended to be played on a loop in the auditorium in order to educate visitors about the park. This meant that the auditorium had to be simultaneously dark enough to play the video, while maintaining enough light so that visitors entering the balcony from the outdoor could see and avoid tripping over the cords.. Liles had not included any plans for darkening the room or structures to hang curtains in the original design (Lee Collection, n. d.). The signature orange curtains selected by Olgivanna Lloyd Wright specifically for the building were also selected for the auditorium (National Historic Register Nomination, 2001). There was also no planned ventilation in the projection booth which would have resulted in the machines overheating causing frequent repairs/replacement.

Liles’ tenure at RMNP was brief, yet his vision for the future of the park left a lasting impression through the location of Beaver Meadows and its contents.



Liles served as RMNP superintendent from 1964 to 1965, NPS Southeast Regional Office assistant director from 1966 to 1968, and Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent from 1968 to 1975.


Related Primary Sources to Explore

Beaver Meadows Construction Features Report (Final Enviro Assessment Beaver Meadows)
Granville Liles' Transmission of Booklets (Collection 1192 Series 002.1 folder 408 booklet transmission)

Related Objects to Explore

Drape; Recessed Ceiling Light Fixture;

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