Cherokee Nation restoring roof of historic courthouse


ROSE, Okla.— Cherokee Nation officials are continuing with the next phase of its preservation efforts at the Saline District Courthouse by restoring the roof. It is the last remaining district courthouse of nine built by the tribe in the 1880s.

The restoration includes a new roof structure with new decking and historic era shingles. The work will help structurally support the building, as well as prevent any moisture from destroying the historic materials within the structure.

“This project is vitally important to the Cherokee Nation and its preservation of history,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It is one of the few remaining buildings that illustrates that Cherokee people have a distinct government with laws and order. This building is a symbol of our sovereignty.”

The project is aimed at preserving the historic building’s deteriorating roof materials and the historic fabric of the building. Work is scheduled to begin in mid-August and be completed in six weeks.

This effort is the latest of several focused on preserving the site. The tribe has worked with the Saline Preservation Association to restore the porch and chimneys, conduct lead-based paint abatement and completely restore the springhouse.

“We are always grateful for Cherokee Nation’s support,” said Lisa Melchior, president of the Saline Preservation Association. “The new roof will help the structure keep its form, preserve history for future generations and allow us to continue telling the story of the Saline District.”

The original structure was about half its current size. The district court had jurisdiction over all criminal misdemeanor crimes and civil suits less than $100.

With the passage of the Curtis Act of 1898 by U.S. Congress, the Saline Courthouse was forced to close, along with disbanding the judicial system of the Cherokee Nation. Subsequently, the courthouse was sold, and the property and structures had several owners over time. In 1970, the State of Oklahoma Industrial and Park Department bought the property and structures. Cherokee Nation received ownership from Oklahoma in the 1980s.

To ensure its legacy, the Saline Preservation Association was created as a nonprofit in 2003. Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Group provide assistance and direction in the preservation projects.

The Saline Courthouse has received several awards, including the 2009 Preservation Oklahoma “Rural Private Sector” award and the 2007 State of Oklahoma Historic Preservation Officer’s Citation of Merit Award. Grants have also been received from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Ruth & Allen Mayo Fund for Historic Preservation, Cherokee Nation Community Works Grant and Grand River Dam Authority. The Saline Courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896 

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