the Colaborative Inc

Cottonwood Ranch and Cottonwood Ranch Drawings

Client: Kansas State Historical Society

Site: Studley, Kansas

The American frontier was settled by a variety of people with diverse backgrounds who arrived from different countries. One of these settlers, Fenton Pratt, an Englishman of middle level British society founded his holdings in western Kansas in the mid-1800s. Mr. Pratt gathered a group of English friends and relatives with him, and settled around the present day community of Studley, Kansas where, he transplanted a distinctively English architectural style of farm and ranch development with the layout of barns and fences in stone materials. The years had taken a toll on these masonry structures, which laid in various levels of deterioration from upright to collapsed on a site closed to public visitation. The Kansas State Historical Society retained our firm, along with Brent Bowman and Associates of Manhattan, Kansas to stabilize the buildings and prepare restoration drawings for the ranch house, bunkhouse, washhouse, various barns, and the site itself. One particular obstacle to preserving the buildings was the challenge of matching an original mortar formulation. Our historic materials laboratory evaluated all of the mortar on the various buildings. As a result of this evaluation, we recommended new mortars that, while not an exact match to the historic materials, were richer and stronger yet still retained a historic appearance. These replacement mortars were formulated for areas of in-fill material as well as repointing, where the adjacent stone would still be responding to the remaining historic mortar. Cottonwood Ranch involved substantial field documentation by the contractor, Dan Rockhill of Lawrence, Kansas. He and his crew brought their usual high level of expertise and care to the entire project, which coupled with the efforts of the architectural and building conservation team, resulted in the preservation of the historic Cottonwood Ranch for the Kansas State Historical Society and its opening to the public as a museum and heritage site.