Cherokee National Capitol Building Masonry Restored to Original Look

Cherokee Nation officials celebrate the restoration of the Cherokee National Capitol building, which was built in 1869. (L to R) David Walkingstick, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; Crosslin Smith, Cherokee spiritual leader; Rex Jordan, CNB board of directors; Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation secretary of state; Joe Byrd, speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden; Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker; Shawn Slaton, CNB chief executive officer; Curtis Snell, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; and Todd Hembree, Cherokee Nation attorney general.

Cherokee Nation officials celebrate the restoration of the Cherokee National Capitol building, which was built in 1869. (L to R) David Walkingstick, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; Crosslin Smith, Cherokee spiritual leader; Rex Jordan, CNB board of directors; Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation secretary of state; Joe Byrd, speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden; Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker; Shawn Slaton, CNB chief executive officer; Curtis Snell, Cherokee Nation Tribal Council; and Todd Hembree, Cherokee Nation attorney general.

More than 2,000 bricks replaced to strengthen structure for generations to come

Published September 18, 2015

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA— The Cherokee National Capitol building has stood for nearly 150 years, and after recent exterior restoration work, the historic building is strong enough for generations to come.

To get the building back to its historic look dating back to the 1870s, paint was removed from the existing brick on the entire building. All old mortar had to be removed and replaced with new mortar to strengthen the masonry. It took more than 2,000 new bricks to replace existing weak or crumbling bricks from the original construction.

“We have restored a national landmark for the Cherokee people. Our downtown Capitol building is our most iconic structure, and I am so proud we have brought it back to its original beauty,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

“The Cherokee people have utilized this building for the past 150 years, and now we have ensured it will remain a hub of culture and history for our tribe for the next 150 years.”

The work was performed by Builders Unlimited, which is a TERO company. The restoration was overseen by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. The project started March 3 and was completed August 31.

In 2013, a replica cupola was constructed to bring the building back to its original appearance. Originally, the cupola was used to aid airflow through the upper floors of the building. Over time it was also used for office space as well as a jury room before being destroyed in a 1928 fire.

Other previous restoration work includes roof repairs with new decking and historic era shingles, restoration of soffits and fascia, a gutter system, and updated doors and windows.

The Capitol was constructed in 1869 and was originally occupied by all three branches of the Cherokee Nation government prior to statehood. Today, it houses the tribe’s judicial branch. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also designated a National Landmark.

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