The Oklahoma Historical Society is getting a $46-million bond to repair and maintain historic sites all over the state.
The passage of Oklahoma House Bill 4099 means the OHS will be able to tackle a long backlog of projects they've been waiting to start. Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Trait Thompson says 24 museums and historic sites have seen better days and desperately need maintenance.
“This bill is a game-changer for us in terms of being able to carry out our mission to collect and share Oklahoma’s history," he said.
“We have roofs that need to be replaced, we have sidewalks that are broken and cracked, and we have parking lots that are in disrepair. A lot of ADA compliance issues that we need to address.”
He says it won't be easy - rebuilding sites like the replica and original structures at Fort Gibson historic site require specialized building techniques.
“You can’t use modern construction methods when you’re restoring old buildings," Thompson said.
"That expertise depending on what it is, it is rare. When you’re talking about historic stonemasonry or you’re talking about some of these wood shake roofs and things like that, you do need to make sure that you’re getting the right people for the right job.”
Historic repairs are also costly, but Thompson says the results will be worth it.
“It’s a completely new ballgame, it’s usually much more expensive than doing a typical construction project but also it’s worth it because you’re preserving an element of our history that once it’s lost you can never get back," he said.
Thompson expects the first repairs to start in about a year - but it'll take roughly five to six years to finish work at each site.