University of Kansas Professor of Architecture, Dan Rockhill on the value of historic restoration.
It's the footprint of our past, right?
It's what, you know, what we have.
And it's almost always through buildings, of course, there are writings and those kinds of things.
But I think the the real live footprints for me are the buildings that represent the culture at the time and what they could afford to do, what they thought was important.
There's a lot here in terms of making a statement.
Historic preservation is interpreted by a lot of different things.
It depends on how much it will cost.
There's a historic integrity to try to save it as it was.
And it's also a project of interpretation.
So the interpretation could be done abstractly by records or maps, drawings, photographs.
The preservation itself is, okay, we have an old piece of board that was originally at the site.
We have to save that.
And then there's also the interpretation on maybe rebuilding the site or restoring a site to what it was in its grandure.
And there's also the reuse of the building.
Restoring a site might consist of what was done at the Cottonwood Ranch.
A lot of these buildings were intact, but they were going to fall.
So in the restoration of it, we did the preservation, but we had to put in modern mortar to hold the rocks together because the old mortar did not.
We had to stabilize the buildings with new boards because the old boards were either missing or warped or rotted.
So that was part of the restoration.
Dan Rockhill led a team that helped in the preservation and restoration of Cottonwood Ranch.
Our involvement with Cottonwood Ranch was predicated on our experience with historic preservation, having worked in that genre for many years prior to going out to Cottonwood Ranch.
We, Rockhill and Associates, which is the business, had restored this building over three visits that we did by contract.
So the first one with this building happened to be lifting it up off its foundation, taking the entire foundation out from under it, and then rebuilding that foundation, rebuilding the frame of it, and then setting it back down.
And that was phase one.
So in Cottonwood Ranch, we went out, I think it was 92 to do that work.
The first phase, which was by and large dedicated on the house entirely.
It is, however, always bid work which is always a bit of a guessing game because you never really know exactly what you're going to run into.
Cottonwood Ranch is a good example.
On the back side of the building, they had stuccoed that entirely, and we were charged with the task of taking the stucco off.
The stucco was put on to protect the wall because there had been some deterioration.
And therefore, you never know exactly what the deterioration was.
So you don't know what you're undoing and therefore what the subsequent work would need to be that follows.
It's just that kind of a thing.
The other part of that that's interesting is once you strip that wall, you've you've turned the page open to a history of whatever took place on that wall.
By removing the stucco early on, trying to find out why it was stuccoed, if it was a Band-Aid, then it revealed the three sections of the house.
It also is good for the interpretation because you see what is the original part of the house and what the what the additions were.
So it was very revealing that they may have decided after using this chalk rock on the North side that for the additions they had learned that maybe the Ogallala or the gray rock was more weather resistant than the yellow rock.
Well, a lot of it was focused on the rock itself.
But we also had to take some measures to try to minimize impact from the weather.
So there is a drainage system around the perimeter of the building that takes away water that otherwise would settle at the building edge and contribute to continued deterioration.
The most important thing on these historic buildings is to preserve them, and we have to make some modifications to be able to do this preservation work.
The most important thing for an old building is having a good roof on it.
Other say it's... other people think it's just the foundation of the house.
But no, there's no foundation on this building.
What you see behind me and on the ground surface is the bottom of the house.
So it would absorb rainwater that didn't run off.
So this is called a MiraDrain system.
The water falls on the rock.
It runs through the rock that holds down the felt.
The felt filters all the dirt and debris out.
The water runs over the plastic down into a pipe.
And that pipe takes all the moisture out of here so you don't have a moisture problem with the wood that's sitting on the ground or the rocks that are on the ground.
So that's the preservation thing that we had to do to preserve the house.
And then they asked us to come back, again bid work, to do the restoration of the outbuildings in 93.
And so that included, by in large the stone walls, but also all the buildings.
So the shearing shed had to be done.
The building was built in 1891 and it was had little or no maintenance on it after 1936.
So it was in pretty bad shape.
And two thirds of the northern section of the roof had collapsed even after the state acquired it because of the lack of support.
There wasn't much of a building there anymore because a lot of rot had occurred.
So we had to rebuild a few things in order to make that structurally capable.
In this with this roof collapsed, we could have used maybe old wood or such as scrap wood, or maybe there's artificially stained wood and put it together with square nails.
But this being on the National Register of Historic Places as a site, not only the building but the whole place, we wanted to show what was authentic and what is not or what is original and what is not.
So new wood was used.
I have, it's a marking awl.
A-W-L, and it's you.
We we number everything with numbers so that you can tell.
We went through and marked all of the replacement material with a date when we put it in.
So again, anyone coming back stumbling upon this would wonder, and then they'd see those dates.
We don't want to say that's original construction when we do it.
So we will admit with the new wood why it's here.
We want people, the average person coming into the place, understand what is original and what is reconstruction.
Preserving the integrity of a historic site may not be about the building at all, such as with the Pawnee Village Museum in north central Kansas.
Well, this Pawneed Indian village was very significant in the Kansas history.
It's on a national register of historic places.
It had been excavated and looked at for many, many years.
So what they did is they had dug other lodges in the village and knew the layout.
For this they decided to do a museum.
They first built the modern building around it and then came in and excavated it.
This is the main part of the museum and it is an actual earth lodge floor that the archeologists unearthed.
They left everything lay at they found it.
So you're seeing it as they seen it.
They didn't bring anything in.
They didn't take anything out.
When the Pawnee left here, they took what was important to them.
And so you're seeing what the trash that they didn't want and they left.
You'll see a lot of burnt timber and burnt corn on the floor.
After the Pawnee abandoned this village in 1830, the Kaw or the Kansa came in.
Burnt it to the ground.
And so that's why you see a lot of that.
You'll see a lot of metal on the floor.
They were trading when they lived here, and so a lot of metal came into place.
So you'll see metal on the floor as well as in the display cases, but you'll also see a bone hoe right next to an iron hoe.
So it's kind of a transitional period.
This was one of the larger homes.
That's why they chose this one to display.
They believe somebody of great importance lived here because of its size.
This home would have housed about 40 to 50 people.
Everybody comes in here and they think, man, it's big until you say 40 to 50 people.
It starts to get a little bit smaller, doesn't it?
But they were only here during planting and harvest, so they just weren't in the home a lot.
The diagram shows the different layers of a home.
Women built the homes.
They built the homes and they owned the homes.
Matriarch of the families.
Still are today.
Now the men would help with the felling of these larger trees and the placing of those.
But other than that, the women built these.
Now, if you look up, you can see how tall their homes were.
They were not a short, squatty little grass hut like a lot of the Plains Indians.
They were large.
They wanted that height for a reason.
They were star worshipers.
Everything they did revolved around the stars.
They were considered astronomers of the plains.
That was their religion, worshiping the stars.
And so the stars are always moving.
And so that smoke hole was their clock in their calendar.
With the height of their homes, that smoke hole would reflect silhouettes on the walls and light up different areas of the home.
So every home was like an observatory of sorts.
I look out here and I think, Why go to all this work?
Building a home, not just one, but 40 to 50, if you're only going to be here four to five months of the year.
Well, it was more than a home to them.
It was part of their religion.
Now, all the holes out there, a lot of people always ask, what are the holes for?
Well, as the archeologists unearthed this, they cleaned out the holes so you can see the placement of the poles.
So all those holes out there would have had a pole holding up the roof or the sides or the or the berths because there are berths around or cots around the edge.
Now, the bigger hole over at the 9:00 hour is a storage pit.
They had storage pits throughout their village as well as in their homes.
And so it was basically the refrigerator.
Most time we think of historic preservation as preserving a building, but this is unique because the opportunity was here to leave things as they were found by the archeologists so that way people can get a better idea of archeology and maybe how complicated it is, but also get an understanding of without written history, you do not get the full story.
And so you have to compare that with a whole lot of other cultures.
We see the size of the lodge.
We knew from historic accounts and maps and drawings of how the lodges, how they appeared, and there's little left.
So this is also a good indication on how history vanishes.
You do not see it all.
And the archeology is only a small part of being able to preserve it and to see how people lived.
Preservation of historic places can mean considerable restoration.
The AME Church in Nicodemus, Kansas, is a prime example.
We were designated a National Historic site in November of 1996.
This building was owned by the Nicodemus Historical Society.
Then ultimately, it got sold to the National Park Service.
So this is the only building of the five historic buildings that is actually owned by the Park Service.
The need was in this building to get it stabilized.
And in the northwest corner here, it was a gaping hole.
I mean, half of the... half of this wall was gone.
And so they wanted to stabilize the building so it wouldn't go into further demise.
So they worked on it for about a month to get it stabilized.
And so over the years, they slowly were doing stabilization work on the outside of the building.
And then they were really bracing the inside.
And all of that took place over about a ten year time period.
And then probably in the last 3 to 5 years, that's when they really started working on the interior, really trying to get it refurbished.
The light fixtures are the original ones.
These pews are the original ones.
When I come in there, I think about what it must have been like for them to be in here and singing.
The Park Service has done a good job in restoring it, and it's quite appropriate that this building be one of the first ones to actually get restored, because I think it speaks to the role of the church in the migration and the promotion of the town, as well as the faith that people had during that time period that carried them to carry out the vision that they had.
Now I see.
I just love the acoustics in here, it's just like, Oh my.
The best case scenario is that a historic building like the Nicodemus AME Church is preserved on its original location, but that isn't always possible.
Maybe there's some construction work coming in or the building is set for demolition.
Okay, The site's going to go, and there's probably nothing you can do about it.
You can preserve the history by the buildings that are on it so you can move that building to another location and you're still preserving part of the history on how the building looked, how it was used.
and it can be visited.
You just don't get the sense of where it was, maybe out in the middle of the plains or on top of the hill.
But you still get that sense on the preservation, on how people lived, how it was constructed and a lot of the story.
Doug Springer has volunteered with several building preservation projects at the Santa Fe Trail Center west of Larned Kansas.
The church was going to be destroyed and Melba Woods heard about it.
And she got with the Trail Center and she bought it and had it moved out here.
Yeah, they brought it in from down on Johnson Street.
We moved out here.
A mover out of Hays Brought it out here.
The depot's been here for years.
And it was gutted inside.
Some of the walls, interior walls, stuff was missing.
The inner wall between the freight room and the office part.
That wall and the wood and stuff was sawed on the old sawmill that we mounted out there by that, the school did come from Frizzell just like the depot As I said.
It's... it's been God send to have them here and preserved.
An example with historic preservation on a different site is the Cooper Barn in Colby, Kansas, at the Prairie Museum of Art and History.
So it's a huge barn.
They raised registered stock, primarily herefords in the 20th century.
And so that barn could be seen from many miles away.
But people didn't visit it because it was on private property, so they moved the barn intact from near Rexford, Kansas, to Colby, Kansas, and put it on the museum ground.
So not only can you view the barn and its magnificence, but it is also reused because there are wedding receptions, there are dances and stuff like that in the big loft of the barn or the hay mow.
But that the historic integrity has not been torn up because you can still see the flooring of the hay mow.
You can see that shafts that go down into the various pens or various areas in the deal.
You can open the doors.
Yes, they put stairways up so people could get up and down.
Did had hurt the barn.
It's seen by more people now.
It's reused by more people.
And the history is still preserved.
Interpretation of history sometimes comes not by restoration or preservation, but through replication of historic items or structures.
Depending on the subject, replication of historic sites can be done.
Replication basically consists of building a structure the way it was.
And this isn't using the original materials because with a sod house that's all melted away.
So you have to cut the new sod to do it, but you can build it and build it the correct way of the various layers.
It's cool in the summer, warm in the winter.
It is a replication.
It is eroding as the sod houses the would with heavy rainstorms and winter storms.
But that's the way it was.
So you really get the feeling.
You get the taste of what it was like.
Although it's a modern construction.
If you want to see an excellent replication, it's the stagecoach at the Fort Wallace Museum.
The Butterfield stages were very good design and stuff.
There are very few of those left in running condition, so the specifications for those have been used to replicate one.
So it would be exactly as a stagecoach of the mid 19th century would look and road ready just as it was then.
So that's a replica where they've used new materials to do is to do exactly the reconstruction of what it was.
In some cases, preservation, restoration and replication come together to tell the full story of a historic location like the Fort Larned National Historic Site.
George Elmore, the Chief Ranger.
I do compliance and the responsibility for resource management, both natural and cultural.
I deal lot with historic preservation every day with the job one way or another.
The building we're in right now, the post bakery, is an excellent example of historic preservation, historic people doing research, archeologists doing archeological work, historic architects figuring out how the bake oven looked, and then everything all coming together.
And finally the historic furnishings, people doing a furnishing plan figured out a little bit more.
And we can see examples of all of that right here in this room.
This building was used as the post bakery from 1867 when it was built until the Fort was closed in 1878.
Now, after the Fort was closed, the Fort was sold at public auction in 1884 and became a working ranching farming operation.
They don't need a bake oven, so they took the bake oven out, but they were able to use the room and so the shadow marks of the bake oven were still on the wall when we took it over.
And even some evidence of the very top stones kind of corbelling up on the chimney.
Now the Park Service gets a hold of it in 1964, and then we start bringing in historians to document the rooms, historic architects to document all of the looks of everything as it is right at that time.
And so the archeologists then excavate the floor underneath here and figured out where the footings were and how everything looked underneath it, and then finally it gets into historic restoration.
And so the historic architects then come in and they figure out by looking at the shadow marks on the wall that were still existing, how big the oven was.
They could tell by the two corners how it came out.
They knew it was brick by the historians saying it was brick.
And then finally, just even researching through various army baking procedures how baking was done.
That told a lot.
When we got down into then into the historic furnishing plan, we were able to research the size of a table, how the army tables in a bakery were to look in the historic furnishing plan.
It documents the proof rack.
This is where they mixed the water and the flour and yeast and everything together to make the bread.
It was on rollers.
And if you'll notice that line on the wall, we had seen that for a long time.
And were assuming that has something to do with the farming period.
And it was just damaged.
But once they got the proof rack made using the military accounts for what it should be, it matches the line exactly length, height and everything.
We were able to document this was a woodfired oven.
It has the baking, the heating chamber, the ash drop for ashes, and then the middle part of it was the actual baking chamber itself.
You know, we use it like Memorial Weekend.
We fired up.
Then our living history people, they actually get bread made with the old recipe cooked in a reproduction oven.
A lot of places you go, they might have half size bake ovens, but in the Park Service, it has to be exactly as it was or we can't do it.
The bake oven of it today is exactly the same size as it would have been then.
The blockhouse here is a good example of where a building was missing.
And so we had to do everything pretty much from the ground up.
The historic architects had a photograph of it taken in 1886 to go by, so we could tell pretty much the exterior, its hexangular.
They were able to figure out the height through doing what they do with photographs.
The archeologists came in, they excavated, they found the foundation of the building.
So it's today replicated right where the original foundation was underground.
They found a passageway that goes back to a well, and it was used as solitary confinement underground.
Yes, this was used for solitary confinement when this was a guard house.
And you can see here the tunnel that would lead back to the well.
Here we have the well, it's not an active well anymore, but this was where the well would have been.
And like I said, if you're under siege, you get access to water.
The men here didn't like the well water.
But I mean, if you're desperate for water, then you're going to have it.
So that's all put back exactly the same.
And then we were doing some work on the officers quarters.
They had been capped in concrete porches.
So we were taking those off to prepare to put the original wooden porches back.
And we started finding sandstone blocks that had gun loopholes carved in them.
Well, now the architects come back in, they look at that and they say, Whoa, the only building missing with loopholes is the blockhouse.
So these had to be stones from the blockhouse.
Today there are over 300 original stones put back into the blockhouse, even though it is a reconstruction.
Those stones that were found went right back into the building.
To the National Park Service our historic preservation policies are we have to do this as accurately as we possibly can.
It's impossible to truly have it exactly as it looked in 1868, but we don't want it to look like a fictitious set either.
We want it to be as accurate, so the American public come in, they get a very realistic view of how Fort Larned looked.
Not vaguely replicated and saying, Well, all this is good enough.
We don't try to fool the public either.
A reconstruction like the blockhouse, we clearly tell people is a reconstruction and we identify what is replicated and what is original.
If anybody is interested in the information, if you're wanting to learn anything about it, we actually share all the information from what we found from the archeology work, what the historic architects did, the drawings that they made, and then finally the finished product, the building.
In Congress, when they established Fort Larned, the mandate they required here was to tell the story of the soldiers as close as we can, the Santa Fe Trail and the Plains Indians.
So that's what we're trying to do today, is to meet what Congress told us, to the tell the story of the United States soldier in the American West at Fort Larned as accurately as we can.
The preservation, restoration and replication of historic buildings is very important to preserve our history and our culture.
And these things were only made once, and they can't be made again the same way.
So it's very important to see the examples through historic preservation of all these buildings that have been built and are still in existence because it'll never happen again.