Volunteer crews led by HistoriCorps, a nationally recognized non-profit organization, have been working to preserve the Brolliar Park Cabin this summer. The historic cabin, built by one of Arizona’s last homesteaders, is located in the Coconino National Forest south of Mormon Lake.
The award-winning group, which works to save historical structures on public lands around the nation, collaborated with the Coconino National Forest on the four-week project.
HistoriCorps arranged and trained the volunteer work force, made site assessments and developed the scope of work for the project on the Coconino National Forest. As a non-profit organization, HistoriCorps has a national agreement with the Forest Service. Work done under the agreement avoids the lengthy process of government contracting, explained Karen Malis-Clark, retired National Forest Service Public Service information officer. “That is such a win-win situation. The intangible value of volunteers spending time on special lands and historic structures is another positive result of these projects,” she added.
“Among our many management responsibilities, the Forest Service is charged with preserving our cultural heritage for future generations. Historic preservation projects, such as the Brolliar Cabin Project, can be complex to plan and logistically difficult to implement – especially in an era where federal budgets are increasingly tight,” said Jeremy Haines, the Flagstaff Ranger District archaeologist for the Coconino National Forest. “By partnering with HistoriCorps, the Coconino National Forest has been able to capitalize on their expertise and benefit from the diverse volunteer labor that they bring to each project. Not only do these projects save unique places, but they also build relationships between people, and directly connect people with the unique heritage resources on the forest.”
Haines worked with historian Pat Stein to write the report entitled, “The Brolliar Park Cabin Preservation Project,” which outlined the proposal for preservation of the log cabin, the only known homestead that continues to exist on the forest.
The Coconino National Forest report states, “Although the cabin is still standing with a partial roof, it remains in poor condition and is in imminent threat of collapse unless critical preservation actions are soon made. The CNF is partnering with HistoriCorps, a non-profit historic preservation organization with experience in log cabin preservation, in order to repair, stabilize and preserve this building.”
Four crews, each working for a week, removed sun-rotted logs, peeled new logs, measured and cut notches, and then hoisted logs into place the old-fashioned way – with ropes rolling them up inclined timbers. Besides three volunteer crews, the Arizona Conservation Corps worked for one of the four weeklong sessions. However, volunteers, who get hands-on experience preserving historic structures, are the heart and soul of HistoriCorps.
“Volunteering after you retire – that’s what it’s all about,” said Jane Jackson of Flagstaff. Jackson graduated from Northern Arizona University and then returned to Flagstaff after retirement. Three summers ago, she volunteered at her first HistoriCorps project, the Palace Station stage stop on Senator Highway near Prescott. She has been back with HistoriCorps every summer since.
Shannon Clark, retired Forest Service facilities engineer and current HistoriCorps volunteer, reflected, “Working on old buildings was one of the most fulfilling aspects of my career. In retirement, I’m glad I can continue to contribute to the preservation of these special places with HistoriCorps.”
Clark, also from Flagstaff, is part of a volunteer crew that came together from Minneapolis, Minnesota; Jacksonville, Florida; Salina, Utah; Flagstaff, Mesa and Prescott to help restore the historic log cabin.
“All ages – from 17 to 81 years old – have been part of this Brolliar Park Cabin project,” said Al Osberg, HistoriCorps crew leader and camp chef. “No prior experience is required,” he said.
HistoriCorps provides all meals, tools, training and equipment for volunteers on their historic preservation projects. For the Brolliar Park Cabin project, HistoriCorps staff stocked up at local stores for food and supplies for four weeks. Local merchants included Fry’s, Safeway, Target, Home Depot, HomeCo, Tractor Supply and Grand Central Rental.
“We’re not restoring the cabin to its original construction. What we are doing is preserving it the best we can,” explained Patrick Kennedy, HistoriCorps building supervisor of the Brolliar Park Cabin project. He traveled from Monterey, Kentucky, to guide volunteers on the log project. Kennedy has worked with HistoriCorps since 2012. Volunteering for HistoriCorps is one way to gain log-building skills and learn preservation techniques from experts like Kennedy, who has worked with logs since the 1970s.
The west gable of the log cabin was removed because original logs were deteriorating from exposure to the Arizona sun. The gable was reconstructed from ponderosa pine logs harvested by Haines within 200 yards of the cabin.
The next HistoriCorps project takes place at the Dodge Lodge, ten miles southwest of Evergreen, Colo. Those interested in helping out may register as a volunteer at historicorps.org/dodge-lodge-co-2019/. QCBN
By Stacey Wittig, QCBN
About HistoriCorps: HistoriCorps, founded in 2009, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides volunteers of all skill levels with a hands-on experience preserving historic structures for public benefit across America. Volunteers work with HistoriCorps’ seasoned professionals to learn preservation skills and put those skills into practice to save historic places. HistoriCorps works to ensure America’s cultural and historical resources will be enjoyed by generations to come.