Hays House Restaurant
Council Grove, Kansas
National Register Landmark Site
Structural Engineer - VMT Engineering
General Contractor - KBS Constructors
Photographer - Harold Gaston
Awards - 2016 Honor Award for Excellence in Restoration
- Kansas Preservation Alliance
The Hay’s House is a historic Santa Fe Trail tavern and currently a well-known restaurant centrally located in the historic downtown of Council Grove. Not only is the eatery locally and regionally recognized it is listed as a nation historic landmark and a focal point of the downtown historic district. Built in 1857, the Hays House replaced a log cabin trading post established by Seth Hay’s, the first settler on the area and grandson of Daniel Boone. Uses of the building since 1857 included a home, saloon, blacksmith shop, supply house, courthouse, and hotel. Originally the building was a single-story structure with a gable roof. The roof was raised in the 1880’s to add an entire second floor and flat roof. The balcony that is seen to today was add around 1900.
Work to preserve this national landmark started after a kitchen fire started in 2011. The fire destroyed the kitchen and much of the interior suffered smoke and water damage. The cost to repair the building from the fire was more than the owner could afford, and it looked like the existence of the second longest running tavern was I peril. A group of local business owners came together to purchase the building and restore it with the aid of various funding sources including the Heritage Trust Fund Grant and CDBG funding. Ben Moore Studio prepared the application for the Heritage Trust Fund Grant and assisted in the CDBG process. Without these sources of funding the project may not have been able to be restored.
While working on funding Ben Moore Studio worked to research the history of the building to learn of the buildings original architectural style. Photographs were found reflecting the various styles the façade had over the years including one its original gabled roof and an early photo of the second story addition. These early photos from 1903 were used as the basis of design to restore the architectural integrity of the Hay’s House. The current 1970’s “Gunsmoke” themed façade was removed and replaced with new wood siding, and a wood cornice to match the 1903 photo. The damaged historic wood columns were able to be replicated with great detail by scanning the adjacent intact columns with a 3D scanner and milling them with a CNC machine. These repaired columns along with new decking stabilized the second-floor deck to allows visitors to enjoy views of the historic downtown from a higher vantage point. The railing on the deck included custom milled empire balusters to match the historic photos. ADA improvements were also needed. It was important for these changes to be made in a way that was subtle. An ADA ramp was designed at a low grade to prevent the need of a handrail and was finished with new and salvaged brick to minimize the impact on the historic facade. Non-historic windows and doors were replaced with new wood windows and doors and wood bulkheads to match the original openings. Lastly, new signage was placed beneath the cornice to give the building its final historic look, making it stand out in the district as a proud National Historic Landmark.
The work done on the Hay’s House sparked interest among other building owners in the downtown to restore their buildings. Since completing the Hays House in 2013 xxx buildings in Council Grove have had some historic preservation work done