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Living history

Storied Kennedy Grain Elevator, listed as endangered place, will get a roof over its bowed beams

Kevin Joyce climbs down the inside of the Kennedy Grain Elevator as Tim Hunter works on stabilizing the roof supports of the structure. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Mancos Times

Kevin Joyce climbs down the inside of the Kennedy Grain Elevator as Tim Hunter works on stabilizing the roof supports of the structure.

The Kennedy Grain Elevator, a landmark along U.S. 160, is in the process of getting a much-needed new roof this month to protect its bowed timbers.

The building was listed as one of Colorado's most endangered historic places last year because it is the last one of its kind standing in Montezuma County and its stacked wood construction is rare in southwestern Colorado, said Jennifer Orrigo Charles, a programs manager for the nonprofit Colorado Preservation, Inc.

"Historic preservation extends beyond the retention of grand properties owned by the elite or examples of the work of well-known architects. There is a responsibility to also provide a voice for the vernacular buildings, and those buildings that speak to the economy of a community," she said.

The Kennedy family hired Environmental Designs with their own funds to bring the roof up to modern standards.

"The family is pulling together to get it stabilized," said Tim Hunter, owner of Environmental Designs.

The new galvanized metal roof is needed to protect the visibly aging building.

"Once we get a roof on there, there will be no more deterioration," he said.

An architectural engineer inspected the building before the work started to make sure it was stable enough to work on. To start replacing the roof on the 58-foot elevator, the construction team had to install platforms to stand on.

As of Monday, about half the rafters had been replaced, and work had been slowed a bit by deterioration along the top of the walls, he said.

"Nothing had been done in here for 30 years," Hunter said.

The grain elevator was built by Grady Clampette, who moved from Louisiana to settle the Mancos Valley about the turn of the century, said Glen Spencer. Clampette was Spencer's great uncle.

The elevator was used to store winter wheat, and when Clampette was using it, the crops were brought in by his combine, which was the first to be brought to the county, Spencer said. Clampette later moved to town in the 1950s to manage apartments, he said.

As an antiques enthusiast, he said he was pleased to see the preservation moving forward.

"I think history is something that needs to be preserved or it will be lost forever," he said.

The Kennedy Grain Elevator west of Mancos, listed as one of Colorado's most endangered historic places last year, is being stabilized. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/The Mancos Times

The Kennedy Grain Elevator west of Mancos, listed as one of Colorado's most endangered historic places last year, is being stabilized.

With safety harnesses clipped to safety straps, Tim Hunter works on the roof supports at the Kennedy Grain Elevator. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Mancos Times

With safety harnesses clipped to safety straps, Tim Hunter works on the roof supports at the Kennedy Grain Elevator.

Tim Hunter discusses the stabilization project at the Kennedy Grain Elevator west of Mancos. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Mancos Times

Tim Hunter discusses the stabilization project at the Kennedy Grain Elevator west of Mancos.

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