Historic Preservation in Deadwood

While it is true that miners founded Deadwood, it was skilled hands with wood, stone, and brick that built this interesting city. Deadwood offers a variety of interesting architecture from both the historical and the technical standpoints.

Deadwood is designated as a National Historic Landmark District, and it is the job of city preservation officer Jim Wilson to interpret, review, and enforce any building projects. Wilson and the other employees of the city’s Department of Planning, Zoning, and Historical Preservation act as guardians of Deadwood’s historical and cultural resources.

Deadwood’s existing buildings have been evaluated based on location, historical aspects, zoning, and the appropriation of applicable state and federal funds and are categorized as contributing or non-contributing properties in the Historic District.

Terry Kranz, a project manager prefers to further classify the general term of “historical preservation” with two other phrases: historical restoration and historical replication. Historical restoration is the process by which as much of the original structure, plus architectural material and techniques as possible, are used. The historical replication approach uses modern architectural methods and materials to simulate an authentic period look. The extent of the deterioration of the building and other existing conditions (local codes and zoning, economics, building utilization, etc.) are also determining factors for the extent of restoration done to a property.

“In many cases, it is difficult for a person who has not studied architecture to tell the difference,“ said Kranz.

Deadwood is well represented with structural examples of the historic restoration category. One of the most impressive is The Historic Franklin Hotel, completed in 1903. Owner Bill Walsh has been a partner in the property since 1980. The Franklin has been the centerpiece of the community for 99 years, and Walsh believes that it will continue to be. Walsh estimates that about $2.5 million dollars have been spent in the last decade to restore this historic landmark.

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