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Pinedale Online > News > September 2011 > Sommers Ranch Homestead Open House

Open House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Open House
Approximately 250 people turned out for Saturday's Open House. The weather sunny and warm. The cool late-summer cool nights helped a lot to knock down the mosquitoes and bugs typically found here during the summer.

Open House. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Open House
This was the first opportunity for the public to see the restored homestead house.

Wyoming Centennial Ranch. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Wyoming Centennial Ranch
The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office gave the Sommers Ranch this sign as part of being named a Wyoming Centennial Ranch.

Teeter-Totter. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Teeter-Totter
This teeter-totter was one used by the children on the ranch. It was broken apart and pretty bad shape. Buck Anspach took on the challenge of restoring it and making it functional again in time for the open house. The wheels come from an old wagon. The handles to hold onto are old broom handles.

Socializing. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Socializing
Jonita Sommers (sitting) socializes with friends at the Open House.

Spinning. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Spinning
Caroline Brazzell brought her spinning wheel and gave spinning demonstrations during the Open House.

Great food. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Great food
Many people donated food for the open house. All the recipies were home-cooked, old-style family recipes. For a donation, people could get a recipe book for the meals that were at the open house.

Restored homestead house. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Restored homestead house

Historic site. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Historic site
The historic site sits on about an acre of land adjacent to the working ranch.

Biographies. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Biographies
Rita Donham and James Burgess read biographies of people associated with the homestead.

Restoration. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Restoration
Interpretive signs were placed throughout the site explaining the various aspects of the homestead restoration process.

Homemade butter and jelly. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
Homemade butter and jelly
Visitors enjoyed home-made butter and jam, along with home-made breads, pies, desserts.... great food!
Sommers Ranch Homestead Open House
Upper Green River Valley homestead living history site
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
September 8, 2011

On Saturday, September 3rd, the Sublette County Historical Society, Green River Valley Museum, and siblings Jonita & Albert Sommers held an Open House to showcase the renovation of the 100-year old homestead house on the Sommers Ranch. Around 250 people turned out for the gathering at the rural ranch located on the Green River approximately twelve miles southwest of Pinedale.

The ranch was started in 1908 and is still a working cattle ranch owned and operated by the same family who homesteaded there more than one hundred years ago. It has been designated as a Wyoming Centennial Ranch by the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Wyoming Stockgrower’s Association, Wyoming Woolgrower’s Association and the Wyoming Business Council.

The ranch headquarters including the two-story log homestead house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The ranch property became part of a 19,000-acre land conservation project in 2010 as part of four conservation easements between the Sommers Ranch and the Grindstone Ranch. As part of that project, the homestead house, several other historic buildings were given to the Sublette County Historical Society to manage as a historic site, along with an easement on about an acre of land.

The site is not a museum. Its purpose is to explore the lifestyles of early homesteading and ranching through research, experimentation and interpretation. It will be a living-history demonstration site with many hands-on learning experience opportunities for the public.

The homestead house restoration began in 2010 and was completed in 2011. General contractor for the work was Jim Roscoe with Rosco Co. His crew spent hours meticulously restoring the outside and interior of the building. Historical aspects of the work was guided by historic architect Kurt Dubbe, with Dubbe Moulder Architects out of Jackson, Wyoming. Restoration was managed by Albert Sommers, Jonita Sommers and Clint Gilchrist, President of the Sublette County Historical Society.

The first major hurdle of the renovation involved rebuilding the crumbling foundation under the two-story log house. House-moving specialists, Lemons House Moving Inc. out of Idaho Falls, Idaho, were brought in to perform the delicate task of raising and moving the old building. The entire process took several weeks to move the house approximately 30 feet, dig out the old foundation, pour a new foundation, and move the house back onto the new foundation. Once that major task was done, the restoration of the outside and inside began. Logs were cleaned and re-chinked inside and out. Doors and windows were rebuilt. The back porch was completely rebuilt. The kitchen cabinets were removed and refurbished. All the old sheetrock was removed and the insides of the walls were cleaned and sanitized to remove rodent droppings. The floors, ceiling, walls, chimneys, stairs, front porch, and roof were all restored. An ADA compliant handicap ramp was installed to a door in the back of the house to give access to the lower floor. Outside, structures rebuilt included the old meat house, several chicken coups, and a teeter-totter in the kids’ playground.

Numerous contractors and volunteers spent hours working on the homestead house trying to faithfully recreate the details of the original homestead. The need to stick to the historical accuracy of the details as much as possible significantly prolonged the reconstruction project, and increased the cost, compared to an average log house renovation job.

The majority of the funding for the homestead house renovation was provided by Jonita and Albert Sommers. Additional financing was in part with funds granted to the Sublette County Historic Preservation Commission from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Additional buildings, which include a cellar, garage, bunk house, a wind charger, and chicken coups will be restored as money is available.

An advisory board consisting of representatives from Sommers Ranch (Jonita and Albert Sommers), Sublette County Historical Society (Angie Thomas and Clint Gilchrist), and Green River Valley Museum (Carrie Anderson and Jeanne Lockwood) guide the project. However, the site is being run mostly by volunteers. Each fall, the volunteer group will pick a theme for the following year and will research related topics for the interpretive and living history projects for the next season. Interested volunteers are always welcome. Donations are very much appreciated.

A Grand Opening will be held in 2012. Because of its remote location, the site will have limited public hours. The site will be open select days during the summer, for special occasions, and by appointment.

For more information about this project, contact project director Angie Thomas with the Sublette County Historical Society, 307-367-4101, angie@mmmuseum.com.

The Advisory Board and Sublette County Historical Society wish to recognize and thank the following people and organizations who have helped with the Sommers Ranch homestead restoration project over the past year and a half and the open house.

Roscoe Inc – Jim Roscoe
Dubbe Moulder Architects - Kurt Dubbe
Paul Davidson
Kurt Babcock
Lemons House Moving, Inc.
Tom Mitchell
Richard Roberts
Bob Hayward
Tony Latimer
John Berndt
Ron Dorman
Corbin Lind
Justin Wagner
A to Z Hardware
Bressler Insulation
Buck’s Welding
McKinsey Fencing
Mark Domek Logs
Frontier Electric
Jack Hegart Masonry
Jackson Lumber
M & M Transfer
Obo’s
Pine Creek Woodworks
Pinedale Lumber & Pinedale Rentals
Rocky Mountain Home Center
Susan Kautza
Office Outlet
Sublette County Historical Society/Museum of the Mountain Man - Angie Thomas
Green River Valley Museum - Carrie Anderson
Green River Valley Museum - Jeannie Lockwood
Museum of the Mountain Man
Sublette Examiner - Joy Ufford
Pinedale Roundup - Kaitlyn McAvoy
Pinedale Online - Dawn Ballou
KPIN 101.1 FM Radio - Bob Rule
1st Bank
Sublette County Historic Preservation Commission (CLG)
The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office

This project was financed in part with funds granted to the Sublette County Historic Preservation Commission from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Volunteers:
Jonita Sommers
Albert Sommers
Clint Gilchrist
Maggie Miller
Carrie Anderson
Jeannie Lockwood
Jon Boroff
Sheryl Boroff
Dianne Boroff
Caroline Brazell
Jamie Brewer
Haley Lockwood
Toni David
Mark Denekas
Dawn Ballou
Seth Brewer
Sandy Brewer
Ashley Brewer
Heidi Brewer
Florence Beard
Garlie Swain
Charles Price
Angie Thomas
Elaine Crumpley
Tawnya Miller
Carole Richie
Swede McAlister
Linda Meeks
JoJo Robert
Jeremiah Robert
Sharon Moreno
John Berndt

(Apologies to anyone whose name was missed from this list. The SCHS sincerely appreciates the support and generosity of everyone who has helped with this project to date and helped make the open house a big success!)
________________________________

Photos by Dawn Ballou - Pinedale Online, and Isie McLoughlin.



Related Links
  • National campaign a chance to win $25,000 to preserve a Sublette County homestead - Pinedale Online, September 8, 2010 (9 photos)
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation – Sommers Ranch Homestead
  • 2012 Nomination for the Leopold Conservation Award - (PDF)
  • Wyoming officials celebrate Sommers-Grindstone conservation easements - Casper Star-Tribune, September 16, 2010
  • Sommers Ranch Homestead on Facebook

  • Entry. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Entry
    The one-acre historical site is fenced off separate from the working ranch. Interpretive signs are out front. Those will later be replaced with a larger, 3-panel interpretive sign.

    Yard view. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Yard view

    Yard gate. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Yard gate

    Restoration. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Restoration

    Chinking. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Chinking
    Several styles of chinking were found on the old house. All the old external chinking was removed and replaced. An old-time formula from Pinedale pioneer Elton Cooley consisting of sand, white cement, lime and sawdust was used to fill the cracks.

    Kitchen. Photo by Isie McLoughlin.
    Kitchen
    Photo by Isie McLoughlin.

    Kitchen cook stove. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Kitchen cook stove

    Kitchen cabinets. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Kitchen cabinets
    The kitchen cabinets were removed off the walls and completely restored. Some of the walls had old newspapers which dated back to the early 1900s lining them. The black and white square wallpaper was also recreated as closely as possible to the original.

    Crank Telephone. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Crank Telephone
    Everyone was on a party line and could listen in on other people's conversations.

    5 rings. Photo by Isie McLoughlin.
    5 rings
    The tone for the Sommers Ranch was 5 rings. Photo by Isie McLoughlin.

    Ice Box. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Ice Box

    Wood Bedroom. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Wood Bedroom

    Cowboy Bedroom. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Cowboy Bedroom

    Pack Rat Nest. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Pack Rat Nest

    Electrical. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Electrical

    Restoration. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Restoration

    Teeter-totter. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Teeter-totter

    Playground. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Playground

    Chicken coup. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Chicken coup

    Restoration pictures. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Restoration pictures

    Socializing. Photo by Isie McLoughlin.
    Socializing
    Judi Myers (L) talks with Dale Jensen (R) at the open house. Photo by Isie McLoughlin.

    Garden and Bridge. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Garden and Bridge
    In the future, the garden area will be recreated - volunteers with gardening interests are being sought for this. Near the homestead is a historic 1911 two-span steel truss bridge over the Green River.

    Future projects. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Future projects
    The open house was for the resoration of the homestead house. Future projects include restoration of the garage and cellar (behind the sign). Those projects will be done as funding comes available.

    Sommers Boat Access Road. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online.
    Sommers Boat Access Road
    The Sommers Homestead is located right at the junction of the East Green River Road and the Sommers Boat Access Road. The Boat Access Road used to be the old county road that connected Big Piney and Pinedale. It was abandoned after the better roads of US 189 and 191 were put in.
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