In the community

State grant will help with needed repairs to Vale’s Rinehart Stone House Museum

VALE – A state grant will help spearhead needed repairs to the Rinehart Stone House Museum to fix damage left by Vale’s epic flood in 1957.

While much of the damage of the flood – created by lots of snow followed by warm weather – was obvious, the wounds to the museum were not apparent until recently.

“In our case it really didn’t do any damage for about 60 years. But for some reason it accelerated five or six years ago,” said Gary Fugate, a local historian and president of the museum.

The two-story structure was built in 1872 by Louis Rinehart and evolved into a cornerstone of the community as a hotel, store and post office.

“In the 40s it was a private home then they built apartments in there,” said Fugate.

The flood damaged the masonry of the building in several places but is especially severe in the cellar, said Fugate.

Fugate estimated the repairs will cost about $18,000.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department grant will provide the museum with $9,000. The museum will match that grant with $9,000 to complete the project.

“What has happened is that lime and mortar on the outside especially is starting to just sort of drain out. In some cases, the sandstone has bladed away,” said Fugate.

Fugate said in the cellar flood damage goes back into two-foot-thick walls.

Fugate said the original builders “just used sandstone they got from the quarry up on Rinehart Butte.”

Fugate said he recently signed the grant contract.

“I am waiting for it to come back. When it comes back I can begin,” he said.

The building – which is on the National Register of Historic Places – has grown in popularity, said Fugate.

“People are now becoming more and more interested in family and family history. I’ve kind of nudged us toward putting family history in and photographs and data bases that describe the post offices and schools in all the little towns we’ve had in Malheur County,” said Fugate.

Fugate said he isn’t sure how long the repairs will take.

“I am expecting to start when the temperatures start to cool a little bit in August. If I could get a full crew I could do it in a month,” he said.

Fugate said he is also looking for experienced masons to help with the project.

“Especially those familiar with old stone building restorations,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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