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Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

Battlefield Dispatches No. 347: 'Block by block'

Friday, December 14, 2012

(Photo)
A view of the blockhouse from its new location.
(Submitted Photo)
In the spring of 1923, the fate of "Fort Blair," the only remaining Civil War blockhouse was a perilous one because it had become dilapidated throughout the passage of time and the land upon which it was located had been sold to the Central Life Insurance Co. Therefore, as it was in danger of being razed or destroyed to make way for a new office building, a new guardian angel was needed for its rescue and preservation. This was not a new situation, because in 1906 Fort Blair was also faced with destruction to make way for the construction of the Ohio Block on the northwest corner of the intersection of Second Street and Scott Avenue. At that time, Dr. W.S. McDonald came to its' rescue and the blockhouse was moved to his property on South National Avenue.

This time, in 1923, the Molly Foster Berry Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution responded to and spearheaded the initiative to relocate Fort Blair from Dr. McDonald's property to the city park known as Carroll Plaza. The new location was most fitting because Carroll Plaza was the Parade Ground of the original U.S. Army fort that existed from 1842-1853 and it would not be far from the location of Fort Insley another Civil War blockhouse that had been located on the point overlooking the Marmaton River. Fort Blair was purchased by the Molly Foster Berry Chapter of the D.A.R. from the Central Life Insurance Company for $1 and its relocation to Carroll Plaza is described in the following documents.

"CONTRACT TO MOVE BLOCK HOUSE"

(Photo)
Published for the first time, the blockhouse in its original location on the McDonald property.
(Submitted Photo)
This contract made and entered into this 3rd day of August 1923 by and between the Daughters of the American Revolution of Fort Scott and F.E. Tipton of Parsons, Kan., parties of part and party of the second part, respectively.

WITNESSETH, That whereas said party of the first part and other civic organizations of the City of Fort Scott, Kansas are desirous of moving and having moved the block house now located on the property of the Central Life Insurance Building, Fort Scott, Kan., to the Plaza, Fort Scott, Kan.

NOW HERETOFORE IN CONSIDERATION of the sum of One hundred and Fifty ($150.00) to be paid upon the completion of moving said blockhouse, said party of the second part agrees to move said block house from its present location near the Central Life Insurance Building, to the south side of the Plaza, to be located on the south center side of said Plaza about 10 feet north of the sidewalk running along the south side of the Plaza.

(Photo)
The blockhouse in transit. Where Miss Bass took the picture, it stood at the junction of Wall Street and National Avenue near the Goodlander Hotel.(Submitted Photo)
It is further said and agreed that said party of the first part is to furnish the moving license, three common laborers and certain moving equipment. In addition to what the party of the second part has on hand that is necessary to move said blockhouse; to furnish protection against damage to lot owners along the course over which said house will be moved for damage to said property; to clear the right of way.

Executed in duplicate this 3rd day of August 1923.

Daughters of the Amer. Rev.

By Margaret S. Carriher, Regent.

City of Fort Scott, Kan.,

By W.C. Childress, Mayor

Parties of the First Part.

F.E. Tipton

Party of the Second Part."

The route used to move Fort Blair "Block by Block" was north on National Avenue to Market Street, east on Market Street to Marmaton Avenue, north on Marmaton Avenue to Fenton Street and Easton Fenton Street to its new location on the south side of the Plaza.

The following brief article was published on Page 8 in the Aug. 7, 1923, edition of the Fort Scott Daily Tribune & Monitor:

"PRESERVE BLOCK HOUSE"

Historic Building of Civil War

Days Being Moved to Plaza by

D.A.R. and City.

Molly Foster Berry Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, whose purpose is to preserve historic monuments for the benefit of coming generations , are the prime movers in the movement to preserve "The Old block House" which for many years has stood on the lots of the old W.S. McDonald homestead, now the property of the Central Life Insurance Co.

The Tipton House Moving Co. has entered into a contract with the D.A.R. and the city of Fort Scott to move the historic building of Civil War days to the west side of the plaza.

Mrs. F.A. Carriher, regent of the D.A.R. and Mayor W.E. Childress signed the contract and the cost will be about three hundred dollars.

Last spring, the D.A.R. Chapter launched the movement to preserve permanently this quaint old building, surrounded by so much patriotic sentiment. The City Commissioners offered to cooperate in this worthy civic cause.

Valuable assistance was offered by the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, A. L. Keplinger, Penniman Hardware Co., and F. A. Carriher.

At a meeting of the D.A.R. board today a vote of thanks was tendered to the above, especially to Mayor W.E. Childress and the City Commissioners for their cooperation and assistance rendered.

It is quite a difficult undertaking as the old blockhouse needed special blocking to keep it from falling down. It will prove an added place of interest when visitors to Fort Scott view the old government buildings on the Plaza."

Now then, over the years, Fort Blair was moved three more times to two different locations on what is now Fort Scott National Historic Site and to its present location on Skubitz Plaza. Thank you very much to Fort Scott's Molly Foster Berry Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for leading this, the 1920s campaign to successfully save Fort Blair without which it would have become another victim of the wrecking ball and a piece of Fort Scott's history would have disappeared.

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches