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Grants go to Fort Assinniboine, Kiwanis Chapel

 

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Recently released stimulus dollars will be helping two area landmarks remain standing and accessible. Out of 135 applications statewide, 56 were chosen, including projects at Fort Assinniboine and the Kiwanis Chapel in Beaver Creek Park. The applications for the grants were a joint effort between the Havre/Hill County Historic Preservation Commission, the Fort Assinniboine Preservation Association and staff at Beaver Creek Park. Three buildings were included in the fort application, but only the jail building was approved for $129,445 in funding. The elaborate metal-lined wooden drainage system on the jail has deteriorated, causing additional problems because of water draining down the sides of the brick building, said Becki Miller, Havre/Hill County Historic Preservation Commission's officer. "It's one of the unique buildings from 19th century military architecture," said Gary Wilson, who is president of the For t As s inniboine Preservat ion Association. Without the money, the decay would have continued "until (the building is) no good for anything," he said. "To me, it's really more important than ever, you know, with the Old Forts Trail coming to be," he said. "It's really important that we have something really nice to show people so that they can envision what it was like in the past." Wilson said he hopes that more grant money from other sources will be awarded to help with the additional $500,000 in stabilization work that needs to be done on other buildings at the fort. Maintaining the fort is like playing Twister, he said. "It's just trying to cover everything because everything is just falling apart," he added. The Kiwanis Chapel has seen minimal repairs for decades, Miller said. With the $43,077 in stimulus dollars, a new roof can be put on the building, the porch can be repaired and bark can be removed from logs. Hill County is also stepping in with a monetary and in-kind match of approximately $5,000. Miller said that the work should only take a few months to complete because the building is relatively small. "We're hoping to get it completed by the end of summer if everything goes well," the park's superintendent Chad Edgar said. "We hope to get it in good enough condition that this building is going to be used" frequently, he added. The hope is to make the building available to rent for weddings and anniversary celebrations, both uses from the Chapel's past, Miller said. A fee would help with future improvements and general maintenance, Edgar said. "It means a lot," he said. "This building was actually the first building in the park" and was a center for community events and celebrations. "And it just brings back history. We're really fortunate to be able to save it," he said. "Hats off to the commission members for getting grant money for local buildings," Miller said.

 

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