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Rehabilitation of Hospital Underway

Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn is pleased to announce that work has started on Phase II of the rehabilitation of the military hospital at Fort Gibson National Historic Landmark.

“This phase of the project seeks to return the hospital to its 1870s appearance. This has been a goal of the OHS since the 1980s, and we are finally close to making it a reality,” remarked Kathy Dickson, director of museums and historic sites for the OHS. Before the OHS acquired the property in the early 1980s, the hospital was a private residence for more than 70 years.

“The building has long sat vacant on the historic site,” continued Dickson, “but this project will allow us to relocate the visitor center from the old commissary building to the hospital. The hospital will become the central point of entry for visitors to the site and will offer new exhibits, restrooms and a gift shop along with office space for the staff.”

“Repairs are focusing on rehabilitating the exterior and interior of the building and the reconstruction of several key components of the hospital such as the kitchen wing and the wraparound porch,” said Rillis Howard, OHS director of construction and maintenance. “A north wing pavilion will provide an exterior gathering space. Though the space will not be enclosed, it will show visitors the original footprint of the building.”

The first phase of the work on the hospital, completed in 2017, addressed problems with the building’s structural integrity and gave the building a much-needed new roof. Preliminary plans already are underway for Phase III, which will include the construction of a parking lot and large restroom facility.

Zenith Construction of Tahlequah was awarded the construction contract. Zenith Construction previously worked with the OHS on the construction of the Visitor Center at Honey Springs Battlefield in Checotah.

Funds for the project were provided through the maintenance of state buildings revolving fund managed by the Long-Range Capital Planning Commission and OHS maintenance funds.

Work on the new interior exhibits will start as soon as the construction is complete, which is expected to be in late 2019. Once the exhibits are completed in the hospital, work will begin on new exhibits for the commissary building. Here, the OHS plans to focus exhibits on feeding the army and returning the interior of the building to the appearance of a commissary.

Fort Gibson Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 907 North Garrison Avenue in Fort Gibson. For more information about the site, please call 918-478-4088, visit www.okhistory.org/fortgibson or email fortgibson@okhistory.org.