The centerpiece of Benton County’s Fort Hoskins Historical Park northwest of Philomath is about to get a major makeover.
The Benton County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to spend $108,650 to do a complete exterior renovation of the Commander’s House, once home to the commanding officer of the Civil War-era Army post and his family.
Benton County Natural Areas and Parks Director Jeff Powers said the roof and chimney of the house will be repaired, and it will get fresh paint and new exterior siding and masonry. The front porch will be reconstructed, and the doors and windows will be replaced.
“We had a historic architect come in and do an analysis,” Powers said. “The materials and the look will all be consistent with the 1860s.”
Built in 1856 to monitor traffic in and out of Oregon’s Coast Indian Reservation, Fort Hoskins was decommissioned in 1865 at the end of the Civil War. The fort’s buildings were sold at auction, and the structure now known as the Commander’s House was relocated to the nearby community of Pedee, where it served as a private residence and its history gradually was forgotten.
But in 2012, after Oregon State University archaeologist David Brauner confirmed its pedigree, the county purchased the building and moved it back to its former location. It is one of the few period structures still standing at the site, which the county hopes to develop into a more full-featured historic park.
Most of the money for the exterior renovations — $65,000 — will come from the county’s capital projects funding pool. Another $17,650 is grant money, while the remaining $26,000 represents anticipated revenue from a logging project at the 130-acre park near Kings Valley.
Powers said the logging project would involve removing fir trees from the slope above the house. Mature oak trees will be left in place, and the area will be managed as oak woodland and meadow habitat.
The exterior renovations will be put out to bid, with the work scheduled to be completed this spring.
“We want this project to be done by the end of June,” said Pat Cochran, the county’s budget manager. “We anticipate the timber sale revenue coming in by June 30.”
Meanwhile, Brauner and some of his graduate students at OSU are working on piecing together details of how the Commander’s House was furnished and decorated. That information will be used as the basis of an interior renovation, the next phase in the structure’s historical restoration.
Cochran said the county expects to set aside additional money in the next budget cycle for that project to supplement private donations and grant funding.
Eventually, Powers said, he hopes to be able to open a fully restored Commander’s House to the public, with additional interpretive signs and docents available to explain the role Fort Hoskins played in the area’s history.
“The idea is to get the exterior done,” he said. “There are some folks at OSU who are working on the interior stuff. Then we’d be able to do more with tours.”