James W. Steely, Principal

Master of Science in Architectural Studies (MSAS), emphasis in Historic Preservation and Architectural History, University of Texas at Austin; Bachelor of Science in Photojournalism and History, East Texas State University; Graduate Seminar in Historic Preservation, Technische Universität München. Jim collaborates with landscape architects, GIS cartographers, and other cultural resource professionals, as needed, to provide products and services.  Some recent projects are highlighted below. 

National Register Nominations and Historic Contexts:

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah and Colorado (2020).  This project is an ongoing evaluation of Mission 66 resources at DINO, with some of the earliest and most extensive development of the National Park Service program, through an Associated Historic Context under the nationwide Multiple Property Submission (MPS) “National Park Service Mission 66 Era Resources.”  The project produced (2018) an National Register nomination for a Mission 66 district in the Utah/Quarry Area management area, and next will produce an National Register nomination for a Mission 66 district in the Colorado/Canyon Area management area. 

Cimarron Mercantile, New Mexico (2020).  New owners of this 1890s commercial adobe building are returning the building to service.  The project involved an individual National Register Nomination, and paperwork for state and federal historic preservation tax credits. Building was placed in service in the summer of 2020. 

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona (2019).  This project produced an National Register document’s Significance Statement with Historic Context for ORPI’s Mission 66 village, its first and still primary cluster of services for staff and public.  The anchor Visitor Center designed by renowned NPS architect Cecil Doty is connected by the Mission 66 road system to the housing area—including unusual pre-fabricated Mission 66 residence, the substantial Maintenance Area, and very large Twin Peaks Campground with 203 campsites and six Mission 66 comfort stations including two of the earliest known from the nationwide program.


Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico (completed 2019).  This project produced (2018) a renewed National Register evaluation of the BAND Mission 66 historic district on Frijoles Mesa, a distinct 1960s development separated from the monument’s 1930s–1940s National Historic Landmark district of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) facilities in Frijoles Canyon.  The Mission 66 era at BAND was made possible by a transfer of land on Frijoles Mesa from the Atomic Energy Commission to NPS by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, resulting in a well-preserved village of services anchored by a unique public amphitheater built in the CCC stone quarry. 


Walnut Canyon National Monument (completed 2019).  Since listing in the National Register in 1976, WACA’s Cliffs Ranger Station/former Headquarters log cabin—serving the surrounding national forest and monument since 1904—almost collapsed, and dropped out of the staff’s general management plan.  But from the early 1990s through 2015, 100th anniversary of the monument’s proclamation, NPS and volunteer resources stabilized and restored the cabin, and made it part of the monument’s interpretive program.  This project updated the National Register listing and incorporated the substantial surrounding land and small-scale features.  The summary project won the Arizona Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award in 2019. 


Fort Jefferson / Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida (completed 2018).  Fort Jefferson on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas of the Florida Keys is an exceptional, and very remote, survivor of US coastal defenses from the US-Mexican War through the Spanish American War in 1898.  The US War Department began construction on the island fort in 1846 and continued through the Civil War until its completion in 1874.  From construction through wartime occupations, and unofficial visitors through Cuban refugees, Fort Jefferson occupants have left graffiti on exterior and interior walls throughout the complex.  Steely served on a multi-disciplinary team to document surviving inscriptions and research their associations and origins, to enhance interpretation programs at the islands park.  Employer:  Mettler & Associates Inc.  Role:  Project Historian for Historic Context development.  

Community-Based Projects:

  • Historic Context, Architectural Style Guide, and Priority Recommendations Report for University Park (2020), a late 19th century to early 20th century neighborhood adjacent to the University of Denver in Denver.                                                            

  • Fort Wooton Memorial Historic Structure Report (2020).  Role: Author of History and Historic Context section of report.                                                      

  • Evaluation and Preservation Recommendations Report for the 1890–1988 Loretto Heights College campus (2019) in Denver, pending the 71-acre redevelopment.                                                  

  • Application for “Denver Landmark” designation of the 1899 Will and Alberta Iliff House (2018).                                                                 

  • Application for “Denver Landmark” designation of the 1926 Wellshire Park Cottage (2018).                                                                

  • Historic Context and Architectural Style Guide (2017) for the town of Elizabeth, Colorado (2017), with recommendations for future surveys and designations, and a historical overview video for the town’s website.                                                                                           

  • Application for “Denver Landmark” designation of the 1871-2016 Burnham Shops (2016) of the former Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.

Recordations to Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Standards:

  • Colorado Level III architectural documentation (2016) of the 1893 Queen Anne-style House at 4034 Jason Street in Denver, as mitigation for removing the house during redevelopment.         

  • Teapot Dome Oilfield HAER Documentation; Natrona County, Wyoming; US Department of Energy (2015).  President Woodrow Wilson in 1915 set aside the federal mineral rights for “Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3” (NPR-3, popularly known as Teapot Dome) north of Casper, Wyoming.  In 1922 President Warren Harding’s Interior Secretary Albert Fall signed a secret deal with oilman Harry Sinclair to drill aggressively at NPR-3 and sell its oil and gas for benefits to the Navy, and to Sinclair’s Mammoth Oil Company.  The U.S. Department of Energy assumed control of NPR-3 in 1977 and sold the property in 2015 for private exploration of its remaining resources; the sale triggered Section 106 mitigation to document certain remaining structures from the 1922–1924 Mammoth development.  Employer:  SWCA Environmental Consultants.  Role:  HAER Historian and Large-Format Photographer, as subconsultant to Mettler & Associates, Cody, Wyoming.                                                 

  • Grand Canyon National Park Transcanyon Water Line HAER Documentation; Coconino County, Arizona; National Park Service (2015).  Replacement of pipeline segments began in 2015, mitigated for Section 106 compliance through HAER, and NRHP (see above) documentation.  The documentation won the Arizona Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award in 2016.  Employer:  SWCA Environmental Consultants.  Role:  HAER Historian and Large-Format Photographer, NRHP Determination of Eligibility Author and Photographer.