Last week, the youth corps of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, called HOPE Crew (short for Hands-On Preservation Experience), launched a week-long project to save Grand Teton National Park’s historic Crandall Studio in the Jenny Lake Historic District. The project was formed in partnership with the National Park Service’s Western Center for Historic Preservation and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
The Crandall Studio is the cabin of photographer and painter Harrison R. Crandall, later used as a dancehall, studio, general store, and visitor center for the park. The cabin is the gateway to Jenny Lake – a placid glacial lake surrounded by the cragged peaks of the Tetons.
This rehabilitation is part of HOPE Crew’s broader mission to foster a preservation ethic in youth through firsthand exposure to preservation philosophy as well as to the physical work of preservation, from stabilizing walls to repairing roofs in historic buildings. It also serves to fill a gap in the lack of manpower and expertise many national parks are experiencing.
HOPE Crew member inside the Crandall Studio. (Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Having already completed upwards of 100 projects since the project’s inception in 2014, HOPE Crew builds a knowledge base they can bring from one site to the next, applying restoration techniques learned from work at neighboring parks like the Old Santa Fe Trail, Mesa Verde National Park, and Tuzigoot National Monument. The program has contributed nearly $14.3 million in preservation work to parks and buildings across the western United States, with a membership roster that is ever growing.
With the possibility of massive cuts to the National Parks budget on the horizon, casting doubt on the ongoing maintenance of historic sites, HOPE Crew seems to demonstrate a productive model for public-private partnerships that encourages preservationist values in the next generation who, like it or not, will inherit these public lands.