Stone garage at Stewart in Carson will get a close look before demolition decision

At least four state agencies and a city commission will have had a look at an old, stone garage on the former Stewart Indian School compound before a final decision comes for the old building's fate.

The state Buildings and Grounds Division was on course to demolish the dilapidated garage until Stewart Indian School Museum Director Sheila Abbe found out.

Abbe protested tearing down the building and on Monday she and the museum's board of directors proposed taking over and restoring the building.

Mike Meizel, administrator at Buildings and Grounds, doubted the garage has the structural integrity for restoration. He said he would ask the state Public Works Board to assess the two-car garage.

"I'm not sure she can restore it," Meizel said. "I think the only thing holding the building up is the rafters. I'm still under the impression that it's unsafe."

Abbe's proposal called for museum staff to secure the building within 48 hours and finish restoration within four months. The garage has unstable walls, a deteriorated roof and nearly all the windows are broken.

"I'm not going to make that decision right now," Meizel said. "I want to get a second opinion."

Abbe was not discouraged that Meizel did not immediately accept her restoration proposal.

"At least now they can't have an 'oops,'" said Abbe, meaning the building gets demolished and later it is decided it shouldn't have been torn down. "If at all possible, we'll be saving it. At least they can't just tear it down."

Meizel said his division all along was going through the proper channels to get permission to tear down the modest stone building at the south end of what is today the Stewart State Complex. The State Historic Preservation Office already approved the demolition.

The state still needs approval from the Carson City Historic Architecture Review Commission because the garage sits in the city's historic district, said Rob Joiner, the city's principal planner.

Joiner said the state Lands Division about a month ago asked for a demolition application but has not turned one in yet. Meizel said the plan doesn't call for

demolition until fall.

The state has until June 1 to turn in an application for the commission to consider it at the June 13 meeting.

"Once a formal application is made, the commission will look at the building," Joiner said. "We'll react to whatever they file."

Joiner said the commission bases its decisions on U.S. Department of Interior standards for historic rehabilitation, but there is also a lot of local interpretation of those standards. He said only two demolition decisions have been appealed since the review panel was formed in 1981.

State Buildings and Grounds maintains the Stewart facility while state Lands is the governing agency in charge of licensing agreements, leases and giving the ultimate state approval for the garage's demolition.


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