The Moulton Ranch Cabins, the last privately-held inholding on the Mormon Row Historic District in Grand Teton National Park, have officially been transferred to the National Park Service from Grand Teton National Park Foundation.
The closing took place on April 1 under very unusual circumstances due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Foundation President Leslie Mattson signed the papers in her vehicle outside of the title company’s office.
Under Teton County, Wyoming, zoning regulations, a private purchaser could have redeveloped the inholding, building up to 10,000 square feet of new construction that may not have been compatible with the historic district, scenic viewshed, and conservation purposes of the surrounding park. Nine existing lodging units on the property will provide housing for seasonal park employees. The Foundation is pleased to help the park address a critical need while also preserving the integrity of the iconic Mormon Row Historic District.
“During this unprecedented time when our partners are challenged to house their essential workers, we are glad we can support Grand Teton by providing more space for their employees to live,” Mattson said.
The Foundation announced the plan to purchase the property in June 2018 and acquired the property the following November. It was listed for sale by the former owners, Hal and Iola Blake, who are descendants of TA Moulton, one of the original pioneers who homesteaded the area in the early twentieth century.
A generous philanthropist approached the Foundation in spring 2018 to support the purchase of the property, ensuring the inholding could become part of Grand Teton. The anonymous donor cares deeply for the park and its cultural resources, and was also concerned about its pressing need for seasonal workforce housing.
“We are thrilled to know that the property and all the structures that my grandparents created and loved will be preserved and put to good use,” Hal Blake said. “We are grateful to have the National Park Service provide stewardship over the Mormon Row Historic District and tell our family’s story.”
The Foundation worked with a private contractor to make improvements to the property during summer 2019, which allows the National Park Service to more easily maintain the cabins well into the future. Seasonal employees are being housed in the Moulton Ranch Cabins this summer.
Grand Teton National Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said, “The donation of the Moulton Ranch Cabins is a clear indication of the impact the park has on individuals, as well as, the impact an individual can have on the park. The support the park receives from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation is incredible, and we are very grateful for the donation of the Moulton Ranch Cabins.”
The Mormon Row Historic District is located in the Antelope Flats area near the southeast corner of the park. The first historic settlement period of Mormon Row was in 1895, with land claims in the area thriving beginning in 1908. Known as the town of Gros Ventre, Mormon Row featured over thirty homesteads, a church and a school. The district came under National Park Service management in 1950. The six remaining homesteads, including the recently acquired Moulton Ranch Cabins, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a significant vernacular cultural landscape, and serve as a testament to the difficulty and isolation associated with historic period settlement in Jackson Hole.