the adams house revealed by mary a. kopco
In 1998, Deadwood's Adams Museum and the City of Deadwood's Historic Preservation Commission joined forces and pooled resources to restore the Victorian home of two founding families of Deadwood. When the restoration of the Historic Adams House began in the National Historic Landmark community of Deadwood, South Dakota, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Queen Anne-style mansion had survived from its beginnings in 1892. Many of the structural and decorative changes made to the home were well-documented. The hand-painted canvasses covering the walls, the decorative plaster friezes, the oak woodwork, the grand staircase, and the stained glass windows were in place and intact. In addition, the house was filled with the furnishings that belonged to the third owner: W.E. Adams. Virtually everything stood in the same place it had when Mr. Adams died in 1934 and his second wife closed up the home: Adams' piano in the music room, his books in the library bookcase, medicines in the cabinet, and even cookies in the cookie jar in the kitchen scullery.
All three families who occupied the house-- Harris and Anna Franklin, Nathan and Ada Franklin, W.E. and Alice (and later Mary) Adams--lived memorable public lives as community leaders. Research was made easier because their activities, including the construction of the house and the social events there, were subjects of interest for the local press. Diaries, letters, photographs, and oral interviews helped complete the richly documented history of the home, its residents, and the servants who worked there.
Some of the leading historic preservation experts in the United States undertook the Adams House restoration project. They accumulated extensive photographic and written documentation during the process, from the exterior work on the roof and foundation to the interior work of cleaning hand-painted canvas wall coverings and replicating wallpaper from the 1930s. The result is a fine example of the best that historic preservation can achieve.
Since the Adams House opened as a museum in July 2000, more than 200,000 visitors have had the opportunity to learn about the social, architectural, and restoration history of the home through guided tours. Repeatedly, guests to the Adams House ask for a publication that gives more details about the home, its former owners, and the restoration process. The Adams House restoration is an unparalleled educational resource to help people understand the expense, process, and value of genuine historic preservation.
Mary A. Kopco, director of the Adams Museum & House, Inc., through a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council and the generous support of our sponsors, has completed a restoration guide on the Historic Adams House. The book presents new, never-before seen research on the three families that lived in the home at 22 Van Buren Street, Deadwood. The text features rare and unique historic photos of the home and families through the ages, as well as detailed accounts and photographs of the two year, $1.5 million museum-quality restoration. Thoughtful and nuanced, Kopco's text seamlessly interweaves solid fact, speculation and community memory, bringing to light the personalities of community, home and owner in a close, refreshing historical context.
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