Stimulus funds will pay for Fort Assinniboine, Beaver Creek Park projects
Work is moving forward on an effort to restore a more than 100-year-old military building at a historic site south of Havre.
And work will soon begin on renovations on a Beaver Creek Park building.
Havre-Hill County Historic Preservation officer Becki Miller said Havre contractor Clausen and Sons was awarded the contract to restore a building at Fort Assinniboine. Work will start once the staff of Northern Montana Agricultural Research Center move its offices and equipment from the fort guardhouse to new facilities being constructed at the fort location.
“We’re excited that we’re going to be able to use a local contractor,” said Miller, who also is the architect on the project.
Bids on another restoration project, work on the old chapel at Camp Kiwanis in Beaver Creek Park, are being reviewed right now. Miller said the schedule is to award the contract on that project Friday, Oct. 1.
The two projects received funding through a state bill in 2009 using funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic recovery bill passed by Congress last year. The money came from funding for historic preservation projects provided in House Bill 645.
The award for the work at Fort Assinniboine was for $129,400, and is unusual for a grant because it requires no matching funds, Miller said.
The work on Kiwanis Chapel in Beaver Creek will be paid with a $52,000 grant, with the county providing an additional $5,000 and the park foundation $10,000 in matching and in-kind funds. Some of the foundation money is from local donations and fundraisers specific to the chapel.
The awards were made in a fairly tough competitive process. Miller said 135 applications were reviewed, with the Hill County projects among 85 awarded funds.
Once the work on the Kiwanis Chapel is complete, the building will be available for use in weddings, receptions and other events.
The work at Fort Assinniboine is an ongoing effort to restore what is left of the buildings there. First work on building the fort, the largest military operation west of the Mississippi River, began in 1879.
Miller said the guardhouse is a later building, constructed in 1905, just six years before the U.S. Army decommissioned Fort Assinniboine. The 1905 guardhouse was the third stockade built for the fort, she said, with previous structures proving too small.
The building, with brick walls, concrete floors and slate roofing, is different in style than buildings erected earlier at the fort, Miller said. The structure is more advanced and detailed than some of the other buildings.
The project also is detailed — it involves work on built-in gutters included in the eaves of the building, as well as some roofing work, brick work and painting.
“It’s a pretty technical project,” Miller said.
That work is projected to be completed by next June, she said.
The work also is complicated — as is the work at Kiwanis Chapel — by both the fort and the chapel being listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, something recently accomplished for the chapel.
Because of that listing, the work has to be done according to set parameters which ensure the work does not damage the historical integrity of the guardhouse.
“We’re looking to restore it as it originally was,” Miller said.
The same applies to the work at the chapel.
The benefit of that designation, however, is an increased chance to find funding for the projects. Miller said that, although landmark designation was not required in the applications for funding through HB 645, it was looked at when projects were considered.
Work at Kiwanis Chapel will include repairing the roof, reconstructing the porch, doing some electrical work, painting, and removing the bark on the original logs comprising the walls to allow them to be cleaned and sealed.
“It will really clean up the look on the building,” she said.