Historic Highlandlake, Inc.
For restoration of the historic Highlandlake Community Church
Historic Highlandlake, Inc. accepts the 2009 Stephen H. Hart Award for the restoration and rehabilitation of the historic Highlandlake Community Church. This Hart Award is given with special recognition to executive director Pauli Smith.
This project has been a community affair from day one. The small communities of Highlandlake and Mead have pitched in, in every way possible, to help restore this irreplaceable piece of their history. Under the “persuasive” leadership of Pauli Smith, both locals and preservation professionals have donated the money, time, expertise and building materials needed to restore this “beacon on the Plains.”
The 1896 Highlandlake Community Church, now the Highlandlake Community Center, is one of a few buildings remaining of the once-thriving town of Highlandlake. The town was mostly abandoned in the early 1900s when the new railroad line bypassed the town by two miles.
The stately church stood fast for more than 100 years, when the blizzard of 2003 nearly pushed it off its foundation. An emergency grant from the State Historical Fund helped stabilize the building. With subsequent SHF grants of more than $163,000, and the constant support of the community, the walls were straightened, the windows restored, the bees and bats removed and the siding repainted in the church’s historic colors. An ADA ramp was added and the interior was re-plastered and painted. No electricity or HVAC were added. The building remains fixed in its time—heated by a wood stove, lit by candles and lamps.
The beautiful Highlandlake Church building remains the center of the scattered community of Highlandlake, hosting annual reunions for the descendants of the original town, many of whom come from out of state.
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