Two county historical sites awarded grant funds

Marion County was a big winner in the historical preservation grant “lottery” last week with the announcement that two local entities had been selected for Heri­tage Trust Fund money in the coming year.

The Heritage Trust Fund is a state program under the auspices of the Kansas Historical Society that provides matching funds for the preservation of properties listed in the National Regis­ter of Historic Places, or the Register of Historic Kansas Places.

The Historic Elgin Hotel in Marion was one of only two applicants to receive the maximum grant amount of $90,000. The Pioneer Adobe House in Hillsboro will be receiving a $69,340 award.

The HTF reimburses expenses for projects that preserve or restore historic properties. Of the 38 entities that applied for the grant, 15 were awarded with awards totaling $753,434.

Mixed blessing

Tammy Ensey, co-owner of the Elgin, said the announcement was something of a mixed blessing for their for-profit business.

“I’m excited about, but it puts a little extra stress on me,” she said. “If I was a non-profit, I would need to come up with only 20 percent to match it. But since I’m a for-profit—even though we’re not making a profit yet —I have to come up with 50 percent. It’s a 50-50 match.”

Ensey said they plan to use the money to repair and renovate the 98 windows in the three-story limestone structure, and they hope to prepare a 1,200-square-foot space on the main floor so it can be used for other purposes in the future.

“We’re going to take that money and put in an HVAC system as well as leveling the floor so we can lay new flooring,” she said. “We’re just trying to get (the space) finished so we can use it, whether that be for a restaurant or a second venue space or a gift shop.”

Ensey said she is hoping to start on the window project this spring or early summer.

“We have a lot of windows that could really use some serious work,” she said.

Multiple projects

Meanwhile, the funding awarded to the Pioneer Adobe House was less than the full $90,000 requested, but was gratefully received, according to David Brown, a member of the Hillsboro Museums Advisory Board.

“The work is interior and exterior work in the Adobe House,” Brown told the city council at its Feb. 7 meeting. “There’s stucco problems on the outside and some plastering that needs to be repaired inside—as well as some electrical work, particularly in the (attached) barn area.

Brown added the windows in the structure are “in bad shape” and the structure needs painting and improved guttering.

Brown said if their application for the maximum $90,000 request had been awarded, additional projects targeted included repair and maintenance of Kreutziger School and the farm windmill that stands adjacent to the Adobe House.

As a non-profit entity, the HTF grant requires only a 20 percent match, which likely will be covered by the city.

Though pleased to be selected for the award, and acknowledging the supporters who contributed to the application process, Brown said the funding received will not solve all the issues at the city’s two museum sites.

“We can think of the Schaeffler House porch and carriage house needs a lot of work,” he said. “The school needs work, which we requested but was not included, and the windmill,”

Brown said the advisory board would like to see future projects to include “a very substantial storage place” to maintain the antique cars the museum owns.

“We also would like to have a heating and air-condition system in the school so it could be used during the whole year,” Brown added.