Preservation of a historic building is an ongoing task and workers recently began removing and replacing mortar in the belt course of pink sandstone at the Santa Fe Depot.
The building was built in 1897 and the sandstone in one of its distinctive architectural features.
When the depot was renovated in 2002, architects researched the origin of the stone in order to acquire additional stone for the theater addition.
When they found the quarry in Colorado, they were told that the sandstone vein had been completely exhausted.
But when the owner heard that the stone was for the depot in Dodge City, he changed his mind.
His grandfather had quarried and set the stone for the original construction. He promised to find enough stone for the new project.
Removing and repairing the mortar in the sandstone course was part of the 2002 project, but the mortar approved by the state historic architect at the time may have inadvertently created a new problem.
"The mortar that's in there is harder than the stone, so when things expand and contract with temperature changes, the hard mortar may be causing the stone to flake," said a worker with Mid-Continental Restoration, the company contracted to complete the maintenance work.
Workers raked out the old mortar last week and expect to complete re-mortaring the 17,000 square feet of sandstone this week.
They'll return in the spring to remove and replace fractured stones.
The stone maintenance project will cost $134,660.
Funding for the project will come from the Tourism Task Force, the Mariah Fund, Main Street Dodge City and historic rehabilitation tax credits.
Future priorities for stabilization of the depot include the restoration of the windows, doors, soffits and downspouts. These projects will be rebid in spring of 2013. Historic rehabilitation tax credits will partially fund this portion of the project as well. The city is also applying for funding from the Heritage Trust Fund and the Kansas Department of Transportation.
During the restoration project, operations will continue as usual for the Depot Theater Company. Events, shows and tours will remain unaffected. It is estimated that the brick, mortar and stone work project will be completed in May of 2013.