A product of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the city park of Hill City, Kansas, remains as a beautiful and functional example of numerous similar projects scattered around the country. Built in the WPA Rustic style, the structures found here incorporate two types of sandstone. The most dominant is a gray-green opaline sandstone (also known as ortho-quartzite) which was quarried nearby. It is complemented by a buff-colored sandstone used for trim, secondary structures and a retaining wall. There is some variation in both masonry patterning and mortar joint techniques throughout the various structures. Unfortunately I could not find much online about the park or its buildings during the (admittedly brief) time I looked. Built in 1937, the park and its structures remain significant assets to the community. Now, let’s take a walk in the park!
The rustic shelter house provides space for various functions. Bright white was not likely the original trim color.
The ceiling remains largely unchanged. The fireplace wall has had a flue hole punched into it, casements and/or screens are absent from the openings and white paint has been slopped on stone surfaces adjacent to the concrete and wood. Sometimes it’s just better to get professionals rather than volunteers! But overall, the structure appears to be in really good shape. It has a delightful aura impossible to fully capture in photographs.
A nondescript and strictly functional light fixture replaces what was surely something more interesting. Exposed conduit snakes across surfaces in a similarly utilitarian manner.
Detail of original beaded mortar joints on the shelter house.
Detail of chimney. Lower areas have had repairs; the beaded joint technique has not been retained and alters the intended character. Paint on the chimney suggests that the rafter tails were probably originally a bit longer and exposed (like on the bandstand below); they appear to have been shortened and given a fascia in recent years- further eroding the original rustic look.
An amazingly beautiful amphitheater and bandstand with outdoor fireplace in the distance.
This is the only outdoor fireplace I’ve ever coveted. I wonder who the architect was? The retaining wall in the background indicates the varied terrain of the site.
A whimsical, but very solid, footbridge of concrete, steel and wood.
Another view of the footbridge.
The bandstand has a commanding presence in the park.
A closer view showing roof framing and splotches of white paint marring the stone (though not quite as bad as the fake brick panels we saw on the senior storage building recently!).
The handsome bridge makes use of both colors of stone.
The retaining wall and built-in stairs.
The Scout House. Windows appear to be relatively recent replacements; originals would likely have been small-paned.
One of two similar plaques I saw.