CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis Parks and Recreation Director Rob Carter points out a marker on the Hillcrest Park archway that explains who built the structure.
By Sarah Meyer: CNJ staff writer
The Hillcrest Park entry arch has welcomed visitors for nearly 68 years, and it could soon be listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.
The state and national registers recognize historic properties worthy of preservation.
The state’s Historic Preservation Division has accepted the city of Clovis’ application for the designation, according to a letter from John Murphey, state and national register coordinator. The New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee will consider the application during its next meeting, April 4 in Santa Fe.
“I think it’s a great coup for the city to have the arch listed on the register,” said Rob Carter, director of Clovis Parks and Recreation. “The arch has survived a lot of history.”
Carter said he plans to attend the meeting in Santa Fe next month, in case the committee has any questions.
Having the Hillcrest Park arches named to the registers is significant, said Clovis historian Don McAlavy.
“It makes the good people in Clovis and Curry County proud to have historical property that has meaning,” he said in an e-mail interview.
This year’s state Historic Preservation Division’s focus is “honor your community’s New Deal legacy.” The Works Progress Administration (later Work Projects Administration) was a New Deal program under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Murphey, state and national register coordinator, said the arch probably is the most substantial WPA structure remaining in the park.
Consideration of the arch and several other structures in the park was proposed by Clovis resident Gloria Wicker about four years ago, he said.
“The arch is a good example of something that has continued to function and has a lot of purpose,” Murphey said. The committee will consider applications based on history, significance and integrity of the structure, he said.
“I think the Hillcrest Park entry arch meets all three,” Murphey said.
The arch was among several WPA projects at the park, including a golf course, reservoir and irrigation canals, roads, an athletic field, landscaping, playground, picnic areas, fountains, gardens and animal pens, according to the application. The WPA provided more than $58,000 for the park’s development.
The arch was built from May 1939 to June 1940 — at a cost of $517.50, according to the application.
McAlavy said the Santa Fe Railroad also contributed to construction of the arch, bringing in two long steel rails to support the wide opening.
The only documented WPA structures remaining in the park are the entry arch and approximately 2,100 feet of stone masonry wall, according to the application.
Today, the Hillcrest Park Zoo remains a popular attraction, as does the large park with statuesque trees.
The swimming pool closed in the late 1990s, and there is no longer a lake.
The sunken garden is available to rent for weddings and photography sessions. Landscaping in the garden is maintained and improvements to the park’s walking trail are planned in the near future, Carter said. He also said several ideas have been discussed for the site of the old swimming pool.