The historic Sodhouse Ranch cellar at Malheur Refuge has undergone its first phase of restoration. The intent is to maintain the historic building in its original state, using era-appropriate materials to keep the overall appearance of the structure intact.

The contract was awarded to Abstract Masonry Restoration in Salt Lake City. For three weeks, a crew worked to replace the southeast and northeast corners of the cellar, which had bulged outward and fallen over. To repair the corners, the crew meticulously deconstructed the walls of the cellar, using chalk to number each limestone brick so that they could be replaced in the proper order.

“The intent isn’t to completely restore the building, but to maintain the structural integrity of the cellar and arrest further dilapidation,” said Kevin Hadfield, president of Abstract Masonry Restoration. Hadfield’s company specializes in such work and has performed similar restorations to the Alamo Mission in Texas and several historic lighthouses on the Oregon coast.

Lou Ann Speulda-Drews, a Refuge Cultural Resource lead filling in for Karla Mingus, said that the next phase of restoration—hopefully starting next year—will involve replacing the foundation.

“A key component of this phase is to locate the source material of the original stones,” Speulda-Drews said. “The soft, pale limestone is an unusual material for this area and so far, no one knows where exactly it came from.”

She added that anyone with ideas about where this quarry might be located should contact FOMR or the Refuge.