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Fort Riley's Historical Buildings and Structures

By Unknown | DPW.ENV | May 06, 2009

St. Mary's Chapel

Fort Riley's Main Post Historic District and the First Territorial Capitol of Kansas are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The district contains 294 historic buildings, structures, and monuments (282 of which are buildings), and 118 historic military archeological sites. Management of a historic district this size is a unique challenge for Fort Riley when compared to most other U.S. Forces Command installations.

The buildings in the district, many of which were constructed from 1855 to 1940, were built specifically for living quarters, barracks, gun sheds, and stables. These buildings have been retrofitted with utilities such as water, central heat, and air conditioning. Historic officers' quarters continue to house senior officers, and barracks house soldiers or are used as office space.

Historic gun sheds are used for warehouses, offices, and training facilities. All stables but one have been converted to warehouses, shops, dining facilities, and museums. One stable remains virtually as it was in 1878 and is used to stable horses of the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard. This building is the only original Cavalry facility still in use in the United States.

Headquarters Building 500 is one of the 282 historic buildings that house both installation offices and residences

The most significant renovation has been performed on Building 500, pictured to the right.

Old Wagon

Originally built in 1888 to serve as the installation hospital, Building 500 has undergone several additions. In 1907, anew hospital with east and west wings was constructed behind the original. In1930, nurses' quarters were constructed between the two hospital buildings. By World War II, Building 500's three separate structures were connected by enclosed hallways and staircases and it was serving as the installation headquarters.

Although each structure of Building 500 was built during a different period, there is no visible distinction between them. Fort Riley's most significant challenge related to this building has been maintaining the integrity of the historic structures while continually retrofitting the facility for modern office use as Fort Riley's headquarters.

To meet this challenge, the installation developed procedural handbooks in 1999that provide step-by-step instructions on how to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for maintenance of historical buildings. This "cookbook" approach simplifies compliance issues by providing user-friendly methods for completing adaptive reuse projects, such as the Adaptive Reuse of Carpenter Court, a project for restructuring the interior of four identical historic buildings.

Additionally, the Cultural Resources Program completed the Historic Landscape Management Plan in 1998. This plan provides guidelines for protecting and rehabilitating these historic landscapes.

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