Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Ship on the Desert HABS Report

Documentation efforts for Ship on the Desert in Guadalupe Mountains National Park occurred in 2017 and 2018 by Benjamin Ibarra-Sevilla’s Graphic Documentation Class. Over the course of two semesters, students conducted fieldwork, produced measured drawings, undertook large-format photography, and wrote the historical report.

Designed in 1941 and built between 1941 and 1943, the Ship on the Desert is an early example of 20th-century modernism and is distinct for West Texas. The architecture firm Milliken & Bevin designed the structure for the petroleum geologist Wallace E. Pratt as his family’s summer home. The architects designed the building to blend into the surrounding mountainous landscape, using local limestone and panoramic windows that serve as the building’s most prominent character-defining features.

In 1959, Pratt donated the buildings, contributing structures, and 5,632 acres of land to the National Park Service, which was pivotal in establishing Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The National Park Service has owned Ship on the Desert since 1959 and has used it as a temporary residence for visiting researchers and scholars. The building is listed on the National Register under Criterion B and C at the State level for its association with Pratt and its distinct architecture.

Using Historic American Building Survey (HABS) methodology, students created field drawings and took photos with a large-format film camera while on site. Then, the drawings and the photos were used to develop CAD drawings that document the structure, its character-defining features, and architectural details.

Benjamin Ibarra-Sevilla

Karen Kincaid Brady 
Rosa Fry 
Meghan King 
Hanbaek Park 
Mogan Quirk 
Michael Rahmatoulin 
Rachel Rettaliata 
Carlie Wallin