These were impressive credentials, but Lewis was adamant. Drury finally agreed to support Lewis's choice of Simon as the Shrines Commission's architect. Nevertheless, he made it clear that the National Park Service intended to have a voice in the commission's recommendations to Congress. In a letter informing Lewis that Simon could be employed as a consultant without Civil Service status, he concluded: The National Park Service desires to work closely with the Commission, and particularly so in all technical and planning matters. Later on it will be very desirable, as the National Park Service becomes more closely identified with the program, for Mr. Charles Peterson's exceptional talents in these matters to be utilized in the evolution of plans for the project.
Having won his point, and with Simon's preliminary plans committed to paper, Lewis acceded graciously. "We believe we now need the services of Mr. Peterson," Lewis responded to Drury at the end of February 1947, "and if you can have Mr. Peterson assigned to work with the Commission in Philadelphia to go over suggestions before we become too deeply committed to them, I will be glad."
Perhaps Lewis had been convinced of the wisdom of this course by the chief historian of the National Park Service, Ronald F. Lee. Lee was one of a group of young historians who had joined the National Park Service, fresh from the University of Minnesota, in 1933. He rose rapidly within the ranks, becoming chief of the Branch of Historic Sites and Buildings in 1938. His rather cherubic face tended to mask a keen intellect. He was that rare combination-a first-rate conceptual thinker and a good administrator. At the same time he was a skilled negotiator and a man of considerable charm, adept at dealing not only with people within the National Park Service, but also with outsiders who shared his abiding interest in history and the preservation of historic sites. For over thirty years a succession of National Park Service directors relied on his opinions. Lee had been on leave from the park service from 1942 to 1946, serving in the Air Corps, and thus had not participated in the negotiations that led to the passage of Public Law 711. With his return and the establishment of the Shrines Commission, Lee became a more active presence in the Philadelphia project. On February 22 he represented the park service at a meeting in the office of Pennsylvania's new governor, James Duff. Representatives of the city (including Mayor Samuel), the Independence Hall Association, and the Fairmount Park Art Association were also present. Simon exhibited plans for the north mall, the federal park, and other historic structures. The governor assured the group that the $4 million already appropriated was committed to the mall, but pointed out that $4 million more would be needed. The state Department of Highways, which would be responsible for the development of Fifth and Sixth Streets, was working on an agreement with the city to define their respective roles. Lee confined himself to expressing the National Park Service's interest in the "Shrines Park" and its willingness to aid in expediting the project. Immediately after this meeting Lewis requested that Peterson be sent to Philadelphia.
Peterson was in Philadelphia to attend the next meeting of the Shrines Commission on March 11. Lee came up from Washington, accompanied by Dick Sutton, chief architect of the National Park Service. Once again representatives of various interested groups were present: the City Planning Commission; the Fairmount Park Art Association, including its president, the architect Sydney E. Martin; and the Independence Hall Association, including Roy Larson. A major purpose of the meeting was to hear the views of the Market Street Businessmen's Association, which opposed the proposed size of the north mall. It had retained an architect, Louis Magaziner, who argued that the scale was too large and would reduce Independence to insignificance, making the frame too big for the picture. Morris Passon, spokesman for the businessmen, told the group that he was aware of the probable futility of his mission but expressed hope that some consideration would be given to the problems of relocation. Lewis suggested that demolition might proceed in stages in order to avoid undue disturbance of the business community. On this conciliatory note, the meeting with the merchants' representatives ended. The commission then proceeded to examine once again plans by Simon and the City Planning Commission. Judge Hugh M. Morris proposed that the commission adopt the Simon plan insofar as the inclusion of existing buildings was concerned, and Lewis concurred, although no vote was taken. This issue-which buildings would remain and which would be demolished-would be the subject of debate for twenty-five years.