Labor [Day] Related Records in the National Register of Historic Places

Today’s post is by John LeGloahec, Archivist in the Electronic Records Division at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

Berryman cartoon - Labor Day 1903
Labor Day 1903 (National Archives Identifier 6010437)

As the calendar turns to September and we pass Labor Day, the unofficial end to summer, you might be wondering about the Labor Day Holiday, the federal holiday that honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States.  In addition to the Clifford Berryman cartoon above, there are more than 300 images in the National Archives Catalog when Labor Day is searched.  There are nearly 100 properties in the files of the National Register of Historic Places in which Labor Day is referenced, including the El Vernona Hotel / John Ringling Hotel in Sarasota, Florida, which “was designed by New York and Sarasota architect Dwight James Baum and was constructed by the Burns Construction Company construction costs estimated at $800,000 over approximately a year’s time. The Mediterranean Revival Style structure provided approximately 150 rooms and carried the epithet, “Aristocrat of Beauty.” Named in honor of Mrs. Owen Burns, the former Vernona Hill Freeman, the El Vernona Hotel was opened by an informal ceremony on Labor Day 1926, followed by a formal ball which was held New Year’s Eve 1926. The builder, owner, promotor of the Hotel, Mr. Owen Burns, was a significant force in the development of the entire Broadway area which adjoined the Hotel, including the El Vernona Apartments and the office of the Burns Realty Company, located to the south of the Hotel. In addition to his construction, dredging and paving concerns, Mr. Burns controlled a high percentage of the real estate in Sarasota; it was estimated at his death in 1937 that Mr. Burns had owned approximately 75% of the corporate limits of Sarasota.”

President Nixon and Labor Leaders at the White House, Labor Day 1970
President Nixon posing for portraits with George Meany, Mrs. Meany and other Labor Leaders, under the painting of Abraham Lincoln. The Leaders attended a dinner hosted at the White House. September 7, 1970. (National Archives Identifier 66394197)

There are more than five thousand references to Labor in the National Register along with in excess of 34,000 photographs regarding Labor. In addition to the traditional end of summer BBQs and last dips in the swimming pool, Labor Day often features parades, including a paraded that takes place in New York City.

Elephants in Parade. New York City
Ceremonies – Salutes and Parades – New York – Elephants do bit in New York’s Labor Day Parade.
Elephants advertising “W.S.S.” lumber along in the line of march in the Labor Day Parade in New York
(National Archives Identifier 26423301)

Most of the parades down Fifth Avenue in New York City likely pass by any number of the “Sidewalk Clocks” on 5th Avenue, including the one at 522 5th Avenue, “located in front of the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company Building at the same address. It stands approximately 12” from the street curb. The streetscape is characterized by large, twentieth-century commercial buildings, many of which are occupied by banks and other financial institutions . . . The clock is built of cast-iron and stands approximately 19 feet in height. It consists of a rectangular pedestal, square based column with applied fluted pilasters and a round dial casing with twin faces supported by scroll brackets and surmounted by a pineapple finial. The dials retain their original Roman numerals, hands and milkglass surrounds.”

Hoisington High School Band, Labor Day Parade
Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway – Labor Day Festival (National Archives Identifier 7722806)

In Hoisington, Illinois, a Labor Day Festival is held, including parades featuring the Hoisington High School Band.  The High School (National Archives Identifier 123862477) “completed in 1940, was constructed through the Federal Works Agency, Public Works Administration. The three-story blond brick building has a concrete foundation and stone ornamentation. It has a flat roof with a stone cap featuring carved detailing. The building is comprised of three primary sections: the center, main building housing the classrooms and offices, the east end with the gymnasium and shop, and the west end wing with the auditorium and music rooms. The end wings were recessed from the front facade and extend beyond the rear facade forming a U-shaped plan. The building represents the early Modern Movement in architecture, defined by its simple rectangular massing, clean, crisp lines, and subtle ornament. The rectangular massing, with rows of regularly spaced windows give the school a horizontal emphasis; the large rectangular mass is articulated by prominent vertical elements. There are three primary entrances on the front facade, into each section of the building. The entrances are vertical in form, defined by finely detailed stone surrounds with Art Deco and Art Moderne stylistic references. The stepped entrances, stepped brick pilasters with stone caps, vertical ridges in the stone, scallop pattern carved on the cornice band, and light fixtures at each of the entrances are characteristic of the Art Deco style; the curved projecting entablature over the main entrance is characteristic of the Art Moderne style.”

Minnesota State Fair crowds
Photograph of Crowds at the 1920 Minnesota State Fair (National Archives Identifier 2132086)

Many states often have their state fairs over Labor Day weekend, including Minnesota, where you can see two of the “largest” symbols of Minnesota, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, the “first and best-known example of “the roadside colossus,” the statuary grouping of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox is historically significant for their role in promoting tourism in northern Minnesota . . . the mythical, giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his equally gargantuan companion, Babe the Blue Ox . . . are constructed of concrete over a steel frame with a plaster finish and painted features. Paul Bunyan is approximately 18 feet in height, measuring about five feet across at the base and about three feet from toe to heel. Sporting a wooden moustache and pipe, the statue is painted with a grey cap, red-plaid shirt, blue trousers, red socks, and black shoes. Babe is painted blue with a gold muzzle. It stands about ten feet tall, measuring about eight feet across the front hoofs and about 23 feet from nose to tail.”

Yosemite National Park
Labor Day Weekend (National Archives Identifier 543450)

If your Labor Day plans include a trip to Yosemite National Park, if you’d like you can visit the California SP Yosemite Valley Chapel, that “was erected in 1879, as a chapel. It was a simple structure, small in size and with a steeple. Since its building, the chapel has been enlarged with the addition of rear rooms. It is now L-shaped. It was moved from its original site at the beginning of the Four Mile Trail in 1901 to its present location, and at that time it was apparently placed on a stone foundation. Around 1965 this foundation was raised about 3 feet to its present height . . . This chapel, now the oldest building in Yosemite, was erected in 1879 as a chapel and has been used as such since that time. It is still used for church services on Sunday. The simple architectural design of the structure represents a particularly fine example of the early chapels constructed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is well preserved.”

Enjoy these final days of summer, grab the golf sticks and head out for one more summer fun day, like President Ford did at Camp David, maybe take in some of the Covered Bridges in Frederick County, MD, the Maryland county in which the presidential retreat, Camp David, is located.  “The Roddy Road, Loys Station, and Utica, Bridges are three of only eight remaining covered bridges in the state of Maryland. At least fifty-two such structures once graced the landscape of the state; but storms, fires and progress have claimed almost all of them. Preservation of the remaining structures as examples of nineteenth century bridge engineering techniques is extremely important to the history of Frederick County and the State of Maryland.”

“The three covered bridges in Frederick County are closely related in historical and architectural theme. All three are wooden covered bridges crossing small streams in agricultural settings. They are located in close proximity to each other in the northern part of the county. All were built in the second half of the nineteenth century and have been in continuous use since that time. The three bridges provide a good comparative study of wood bridge truss techniques, as each displays a different truss design. The Utica Bridge has a Burr truss, named after Theodore Burr, who first used the design in 1809. and patented it in 1817, The Roddy Road Bridge is constructed of the single king post design, and the Loys Station Bridge is a multiple king post structure.”

President Ford golfing at Camp David
President Gerald R. Ford Golfing on a Labor Day Weekend Trip to Camp David, Thurmont, Maryland
(National Archives Identifier 6829606)

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring records from the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 – 2017 (National Archives ID 20812721), a series within Record Group 79: Records of the National Park Service.

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