Tri-State preservationist restores pieces of internment camp

Tri-State preservationist restores pieces of internment camp

A Tri-State preservationist takes on a monster restoration job -- dusting off a lesser known piece of American history. And it may be a heavy project -- in more ways than one.

After Pearl Harbor was bombed, tensions surrounding Japanese Americans came to a head -- at least one of those camps was actually in the Midwest.. While it's a dark history, as preservationist Bob Yapp explains, projects like this are more than about preserving the past, it’s about the cultural and environmental impact on society.

Preservationist Bob Yapp and his team recently finished up a tall order for the National Park Service.

"Our heritage matters. The old cliché is if you don't understand history you'll repeat it. But the truth is that our built environment does matter from both an environmental standpoint and a cultural standpoint," Yapp said.

The team restored four 5 X 12 barn doors and twelve multi-paned window sashes from the WWII-era.

"They are monsters and we're just really excited to get them done," Yapp said.

Each barn door weighs 200 pounds.

"Just dealing with flipping the doors and all that has been a crazy thing," Yapp exclaimed.

Seven decades ago, thousands of Japanese Americans walked through these doors, and looked out these windows.

At the time, more than 9,000 citizens were being held in an Internment Camp in Minidoka, Idaho following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

"The park service is going to make a park--an interpretive center out of it to talk to people and show them what was going on," Yapp explained.

Yapp said the process took four months.

"They haven't been painted for years. We have to remove all that gray that the UV light makes because paint won't hold to it. We have to replace wood that's rotted that can't be saved. We try to save everything we possibly can but sometimes wood's beyond saving," Yapp said.

Today the doors and windows were packed and loaded for the 22-hour drive to Minidoka.

"It gives us context to where we came from and it also is the adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings instead of sending them to the dump so all that embodied energy stays and has a new use," Yapp stated.

Yapp said he'll be traveling to Idaho this summer to see the finished product.

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