History Without the Book

By Ricardo Marmolejo, CNMC Program Manager at Fort Bliss, TX
on April 7, 2017

Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting recently established a new technique for training environmental officers at the Fort Bliss Army post in El Paso, Texas. The new approach allows environmental officers to experience the day-to-day operations of each department managed by the Base Environmental Division.

The training sessions, which began last month, highlight Fort Bliss Main Post Historic District’s history through interactive, outdoor lessons.

The new technique uses a two-pronged approach, addressing the history of the building as well as any physical alterations that have occurred. Conducting the training onsite gives students a firsthand learning experience they can use to ensure the preservation of other historical buildings and important structures.

Photo Cutline: D.J. Sevigny, a Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting employee supporting the Historic Architecture Program, explains the basics of historic preservation and its relation to the historic district’s 1938 horse stables to a group of active duty environmental officers.

In 1998, The Texas Historical Commission deemed historically significant areas of the Fort Bliss Main Cantonment eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, the Historic Architecture Program must review any proposed changes in or near the historic district. This additional level of review covers more than just aesthetic maintenance. It also protects the knowledge base provided by the structures. Each building in the historic district exemplifies the knowledge and practices of its construction period.

Fort Bliss Main Post Historic District includes 12 stables constructed during the Great Depression, six blacksmith shops and six stable guard quarters. Intended to serve six two-company barracks immediately to the south, this complex creates a larger narrative that closely relates to the post’s initial layout from 1893. In addition to horse stables, the buildings served an additional use during the Cold War. In 1955, the Nike missile program converted the buildings into classrooms, laboratories and administration offices. Various building materials identify these changes. For example, red brick construction, metal six-light hopper windows and steel roof truss construction are all from 1938. Meanwhile, the tan concrete masonry unit walls and metal 18-light hopper windows are infill construction from 1955.

One of the many reasons historic structures are significant is because they allow us to understand a correlation between building materials and major events from the past. Their presence gives us a unique insight into history that a book or presentation could never accomplish. It is up to us to be good stewards of these historic buildings so future generations can imagine horse stables and blacksmith shops during the Great Depression or missile labs and classrooms during the Cold War.

The skilled and experienced CNMC staff works in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to keep historic buildings safe for inquisitive minds in the future. These buildings, and many others, keep history alive. Multiple contract employees have provided knowledge and supported the Historic Architecture Program at Fort Bliss over the years. CNMC employees Suzie Payne, Doug Yost and D.J. Sevigny currently support the effort.

Cherokee Nation Management & Consulting, formed in 2013, provides technical support services and project support personnel to its defense and civilian agency partners. The company provides a tailored management approach for complex government programs and disciplines, including information technology, science, engineering, construction, research and development, facilities management, program management, and mission support.

CNMC is headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is part of the Cherokee Nation Businesses family of companies. For more information, please visit www.cherokeenationbusinesses.com.