Date of Award
Master of Arts in American Studies (MAST)
This Master’s thesis nominates the Warden’s Residence of the former Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington, to the National Register of Historic Places. The Warden’s House is a superb 1932 French Renaissance Eclectic design, that embodies distinctive characteristics of a method of construction, convict labor, and represents the work of a master architect, George Gove of the prominent Northwest architectural firm, “Heath, Gove, & Bell.” The firm also designed the National Register of Historic Places’ sites of the Tacoma Mausoleum, Paradise Lodge at Mt. Rainier, and Stadium High School in Tacoma. As the creation of George Gove, the communicating architect for McNeil Island Penitentiary, the Warden’s residence possesses high artistic values and is a significant and distinguishable entity. Additionally, the Warden’s Residence, as the most prominent residence on the first Federal Prison, which was also the last United States Federal Island Prison only accessible by air or water, is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. The McNeil wardens dictated policy based upon social political realities relevant to Federal Laws enacted for the containment of criminals, such as Robert Stround, aka, the "Birdman", Ray Olmstead, Roy Gardner, Ralph Capone, Mickey Cohen, David Beck, Al "Creepy" Karpis, and Charles Manson, to name just a few. As McNeil was considered the model federal prison for rehabilitation, the Warden's Residence inhabitants were very influential in designing America's carceral policies. As such, the Washington State Department of Architectural Historic Preservation (DAHP) supports the nomination of the Warden’s Residence, also known as residence #505, or the Warden’s, to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).