Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri

Date posted: January 2013

Background

After learning that the Mark Twain National Forest, encompassing 1.5 million acres in southern Missouri, planned to dispose of up to 150 structures, including farmsteads, fire towers, and ranger stations, due in part to a backlog of deferred maintenance and a small annual facilities budget, the National Trust engaged quickly and aggressively to ensure alternatives were fully considered prior to the removal of properties from federal ownership. To reflect its strong concern about the situation, the National Trust listed the historic structures on the Mark Twain National Forest as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2007. Both the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) participated actively in Section 106 consultation with the National Trust on the development of a Programmatic Agreement for the realignment of historic buildings on the Mark Twain.

Opportunity

After the historic structures in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest were chosen as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the National Trust worked with the Forest to find alternatives to demolition. As part of a Programmatic Agreement, the Mark Twain contracted with a Forest Service Enterprise Team (Heritage Stewardship Group, or HSG) to complete assessments of five properties and create marketing materials, including solicitations and a website, to offer them for rehabilitation or sale. Along with our Statewide Partner, Missouri Preservation, the National Trust provided feedback on the marketing materials, reached out to individuals and groups interested in the historic properties, and provided technical assistance to potential applicants. The National Trust worked with the Forest and partners to review letters of interest and full reuse proposals.

Resolution

One of those proposals is now a great success story. A team from Rolla, Missouri, proposed an unusual solution for the reuse of the historic Fuchs House: 16 teams, each led by skilled professionals in the construction trade, would rehab the house at no cost to the forest, in exchange for use of the property for two weeks each year. This is a great deal for both the volunteers and the forest, which recognized the Fuchs House’s historic significance but did not have the funds to rehab it. HSG, a Forest Service Enterprise Team created to help the agency manage and protect its valuable cultural resources, worked closely with the volunteers during the proposal and planning stages. Forest and SHPO staff oversaw the rehab work to ensure that it met federal standards, and each volunteer team now has the benefit of two weeks every year to enjoy the Mark Twain's amenities. The house is also available for rental a few weeks annually to help cover ongoing maintenance costs

Key takeaways

When historic resources in the Mark Twain National Forest were listed on America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2007, the future of the Fuchs House and other forest properties was very uncertain. Thanks to the willingness of the forest to seek new partners, the 1939 house built from local stone will become an attraction instead of a liability. The restoration of the Fuchs House attests to the power of partnerships to save historic resources on America's public lands.

Photo (Top): Markham House in Mark Twain National Forest
Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

 

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