Big Spring Lodge and Cabins Restoration

A conceptual color pencil drawing of a historic stone and wooden building with people on the deck
Watercolor artwork representing the restoration of Big Spring Dining Lodge.

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Big Spring Lodge. A large stone and wood structure with plywood in the windows and orange safety fence surrouding during construction
Big Spring Lodge under renovations

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September 2022:

The Big Spring Lodge & Cabins restoration project started this summer and is already well underway in most of the buildings! Here's a glimpse at the progress being made so far. A sub-contractor, Pishny Restoration Services, working under general contractor Blinderman Construction, Inc., is gently removing doors, windows, and screens from the buildings and carefully transporting them to an off-site facility for restoration. There, the old paint is being stripped and any needed repairs are being made before repainting and bringing them back, good as the day the Civilian Conservation Corps originally hung them in their frames. Interior architectural, plumbing, and electrical demolition and salvage of items to be restored for future re-installation, are also under way.
A double entry stone and wood structure with plywood over windows and doors.
The concession building/museum with freshly cleaned stonework.

NPS Photo

November 2022:

Workers begin the process of cleaning and restoring the surfaces of the historic stonework on and around the Big Spring Lodge & Cabins. Years of patina and built-up algae and microorganisms are being removed, leaving the stones looking freshly cut, as though they had been put in place yesterday. Once stonework has been cleaned, stone masons will be able to assess any repairs needed for the stones and mortar. Other ongoing work includes preparing the buildings and excavating for the installation of upgraded utilities.
Two wooden doors side by side showing a renovated door versus an old door with its wood finish
Before (right) and after (left) refinishing comparison of two the doors of the Big Spring Lodge.

NPS Photo

December 2022:

Work continues on the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins with the return of the doors and windows that had been removed and sent for restoration previously. Sub-contractor, Pishny Restoration Services, working under general contractor Blinderman Construction, Inc., has stripped the doors of their old paint and finish and are now giving them a fresh coat of finish or paint.
January 2023:

Great strides are being made this week down at Big Spring with the Lodge and Cabins Restoration. The cabins, especially, are getting some much-needed attention. With new stain on the exterior, old screens removed from the porches, and measures taken to stabilize the rock walls, the cabins are beginning to come back to life.

Out with the old and in with the... old? Window restoration continues, but before the restored windowpanes are permanently installed, the Pishny restoration team first fits and places them, in a process called dry fitting. This ensures the pane is a perfect fit before final coats of paint are applied, the glass is set, and the windows are returned to their forever homes. We can thank the teams of Blinderman Construction and Pishny Restoration Services for paying such close attention to detail.

Restoration is also being done on foundational beams. The construction team is working hard to check all foundations to ensure no rotten wood is left behind. We can see their precision in extracting the affected boards for replacement, all while holding true to the intention that the buildings remain as original as possible. Thank you to all who are involved in these processes. Your hard work and dedication show. As always, more to come!

Late January 2023:

This week’s milestone showcases a roofing mockup on the Big Springs Lodge and Cabin’s historic museum. It's not quite finished, but progress has made leaps and bounds in the last few weeks despite inclement weather.

Below, you will see the great lengths contractors have gone to replace the dilapidated roofing. They first began by removing the existing wood shingles, metal flashing, gutters, down spouts, metal strips, and broken-down sheathing. Once cleared of roofing ruins, the real fun began. Roofers proceeded to install new sheathing, lay new cap sheet, breather material, metal valley flashing, zinc strips, metal drip edge, lead guard, penetration flashing, lead step flashing, metal cap sheet, and new wood shingles.

We are so grateful to Williams American Roofing Company, working under Blinderman Construction, for keeping a roof over our heads and a smile on our faces!
February 2023:

With Valentine’s Day just behind us, how could we not share more love for the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins Restoration? The rock wall behind the lodge takes the spotlight this week as Lawrenz Masonry is chomping at the bit to restore this piece of history.Because the original stone wall was beginning to buckle in places from the pressure of the hillside, a new concrete retaining wall is needed behind the rocks to reinforce the strength of the wall. Blinderman Construction began by first cleaning the wall. The difference in the before and after photos below truly is astounding. Once clean, Lawrenz Masonry dismantled the wall to further evaluate its condition. It was determined before dismantling that this step was needed to ensure a successful reconstruction, of course. Each rock was taken from the wall, given a designated ID, measured, and determined if it is reusable or not. Some rocks were, unfortunately, too fractured to be reused. The reusable stones' facings were then separated 5.5” from the front face, and these pieces were put aside until they can be returned to their original location.

Blinderman Concrete Company will later come in to lay the new concrete retaining wall. Those incredibly important rock facings will then be attached to the front side of the new wall to give the look and feel of the original with the added strength and support of modern concrete. This new wall will be installed with advanced stabilization techniques and will be clad in much of the original material, thus retaining the historical ambiance of the 1930’s era in which it was originally designed.

It is important to note that we are rehabilitating and not recreating. Recreating the procedures and materials exactly as used in the first construction will place us back in the same situation. We are taking measures to rehabilitate pieces and create a stronger structure so we will be left with a piece of history that lasts much longer.
March 2023:

Recent rains have put a bit of a damper on exterior work on the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins, but the folks at Blinderman Construction haven't been idle! First, deconstruction of the retaining wall behind the lodge and preparation of the stones for reconstruction continues. Among new developments are the removal of the outer surface of back wall of the lodge itself, along with removal of old, damaged mortar between the beams above the museum building entry. The rain did give workers some time to focus on interior work, but we'll let that be a surprise for later!

Last updated: March 17, 2023

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P.O. Box 490
Van Buren, MO 63965


573 323-4236

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