Historic Structures Report
Part II — Historical Data Section
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Chapter 6

Lack of written evidence has made it difficult to satisfactorily identify these four structures. The Master Plan calls for their preservation at least temporarily in the hope that additional information will come to light. In that the master planning team based some of its decisions on the statements made in the writer's earlier report on Fort Scott, it seems justified to include here the results of some additional investigation and thought, with the hope that the comments may lead toward decisions covering the eventual disposition of these structures.

HS 14, Bake Shop

The Army records contain only two brief references to the bake shop. On the 1848 plan of the post, it is shown as being located about 25 feet northeast of the quartermaster corral complex (HS 13), with its west wall aligned with the west wall of the latter. The plan contains the brief comment that the bake shop was completed. The small building had two rooms, the larger one containing the oven in its northeast corner. In the 1855 advertisement, the Army described it as "a stone building, 37 feet by 18 feet, containing two rooms." [1]

Today a stone building of approximately that size sits on what appears to be the same site. For a good many years the one-story structure has been a residence, having a front porch and fairly-recent frame additions to the rear. The interior is divided into two rooms, as shown on the 1848 plan, their walls and ceilings being plastered. The roof of the building has almost completely decayed, causing extensive damage to this plaster. The wood flooring, however, has remained solid in the main part of the house, thus covering any possible evidence of the oven. There are traces of stone work in the immediate vicinity of the building that, when investigated, may shed further light on the structural history.

HS 31 and HS 33, Stone Structures

These buildings, located behind officers quarters no. 2 and no. 4, have been identified as stables and carriage houses. There would seem to be no doubt but that they were constructed for those purposes. However, the fine construction of their stonework and their large lofts (one reached by an exterior stairway) strongly suggest they were constructed by an affluent civilian society after the Army abandoned Fort Scott in 1853. The military records contain no mention of stables behind officers row. Nor is it thought likely that the quartermaster would have invested so largely in stone carriage houses. In 1848, Quartermaster Wallace rejected the proposal to construct stone quarters for the commanding officer as being too much more expensive than wood. [2]

Not only does it appear that these stone carriage houses would have been too expensive for the post's extremely limited budget, it is equally unlikely that the quartermaster general would have authorized stables of any kind for the officers quarters. All that the Army guaranteed the officer at that time was a set of quarters. Luxuries such as stables were not considered to be the Army's responsibility.

It is also unlikely that the company-grade officers stationed at Fort Scott, even if there should have been some of independent means, would have invested in the construction of such permanent buildings. Few of them would have counted on an extended stay at the post; a heavy investment in a stone carriage house would have been a complete loss when transfer orders came.

The Army's 1863 map of Fort Scott carefully delineates all structures in the town, including the tiny outhouses behind officers row. It does not show any structures behind HS 2 and HS 4 that could be identified as carriage houses. [3]

Three small buildings do appear behind HS 2 and HS 4 in the 1871 sketch of Fort Scott. However they appear to be wooden, and their ridges are oriented north to south, while the present ridges run east to west.

The above assemblage of negative evidence when combined with the absence of supporting evidence, gives reasonable grounds to conclude that the existing structures were erected after 1871. In this line of reasoning, it seems more probable they were erected by well-to-do civilian residents, such as Hiero Wilson in Quarters No. 2.

Although they are fine structures and occupy a space devoid of historic structures, neither building should be considered as having historical associations with the original fort, 1842-53.

HS 33, Scale House?

In 1966 a reputable source informed the writer that the small frame house across Lincoln Avenue from the site of the Army's guardhouse was the oldest civilian house extant in Fort Scott, and that it was originally constructed as a hay scale house. Supporting this in part is a description by C. W. Goodlander of his arrival at Fort Scott in 1858: "I walked . . . across the plaza to the house east of the present calaboose where a saloon was kept by a man named Head. This building had been the wagon scale house for fort purposes." [4] Goodlander's statement that the Army had a scale house cannot be supported by military documentation. In fact, the area east of the guardhouse had long been set aside as the site for an additional dragoon stables should the need ever arise. [5]

Today the small frame residence on this site has every outward manifestation of a modern house. To the casual eye, its appearance suggests that it is of very recent origin. It seems improbable that the structure has an association with the military post of the 1840's. As soon as architectural historians have examined the structure and confirmed these conclusions, the building should be removed from the category of a historic structure and from the site.

A similar determination should be made concerning another house located diagonally across the same block and facing an unnamed alley. Another local historian has made a similar claim for this much older-appearing house, now sheathed with tin.

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Last Updated: 30-Nov-2009