Historic beehive oven to be restored

The historic oven that sits at the entrance to Riverview Park in east Carson City collapsed this month, but will be restored, park officials said Wednesday.

The 90-year-old brick-and-mortar beehive-domed oven is believed to have been built by two Italian stonemasons hired by the Pierini family which owned a ranch there, according to the historic plaque at the site.

Partial collapse of the oven occurred at the beginning of December, said Carson City Park Planner Vern Krahn, and then in early January, most of the site caved in, leaving only a small portion.

Krahn said based on the department's investigation, it was not a case of vandalism.

"It was due to age and the elements, which took their toll," said Carson City Open Space Natural Resource Specialist Ann Bollinger.

Meanwhile, officials have contacted historic restoration specialist Calvin Dillon from Virginia City, who said he believes he can reconstruct it.

"I've got a lot of problems to work out. With the photos that have been supplied to me of different shots, it shows gradual deterioration, and I have no idea what was inside," Dillon said.

He said the work was done brick-on-brick rather than staggered, so there were structural problems "right off the bat," he said. "I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did."

Dillon said he won't start work until later in the year when the weather improves, but that he will use the original bricks.

He said he likely will start by building a foundation and also possibly some sort of structural support for the inside of the oven.

"I need to make sure it is structurally sound, but I believe the puzzle can be put back together," Dillon said.

Dillon is a semi-retired stonemason who specializes in historic preservation. He has been part of the Comstock Cemetery Foundation.

"With this economy, we're going to try to have it not cost too much, but we've got to save history today, because tomorrow will be too late," he said.


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