Stone House, Puerto Rico

2020

HistoriCorps celebrated its 10th anniversary by kicking off the 2020 season with a super special project:  the post-Hurricane Maria restoration of one of the oldest CCC-era buildings on Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest!

PROJECT PARTNEREl Yunque National Forest 

DATES:  February 9 – 15

STAFF LEADERS:  Volunteers worked alongside Project Supervisor Ryan Prochaska and Crew Leader Veronica Bejarano.

PROJECT DIFFICULTY:   

LOCATION:  Stone House is located about 90 minutes from San Juan, PR:

HistoriCorps is celebrating its 10 year anniversary!

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Project Site Description & History

Stone House, or Casa de Piedra, was the first permanent building constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps on the El Yunque National Forest. Raymond Feliciano, Heritage Program Manager with the El Yunque National Forest, shares that “it served as the first ranger station for a number of years. It was soon turned into a recreation house for the governors during the late 1930s to early 1950s. During World War II, it was used as officer’s quarters when the Army was operating various installations in the forest. After that it became quarters for employees until 2007. It has laid vacant since then. Hurricane Maria damaged the ceiling and roof of the house.” 

As told by Wikipedia, “Hurricane Maria was a deadly Category 5 hurricane that devastated Dominica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico in September 2017. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in recorded history to affect those islands and was also the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Mitch in 1998… At its peak, the hurricane caused catastrophic destruction and numerous fatalities across the northeastern Caribbean, compounding recovery efforts in the areas of the Leeward Islands already struck by Hurricane Irma. Total losses from the hurricane are estimated at upwards of $91.61 billion (2017 USD), mostly in Puerto Rico, ranking it as the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record.”

El Yunque National Forest is a treasure. Even though it’s one of the smallest national forests in the system, it’s the only tropical rainforest, and also one of the most biologically diverse. Hundreds of animal and plant species call El Yunque home, and some of them are only found there. Read more about the forest and its ongoing hurricane recovery efforts here.

Through engaging volunteers from Puerto Rico and elsewhere, HistoriCorps contributed to ongoing recovery on the island. We documented and salvaged some elements of Stone House, along with other task items. See below for the scope of work. 

The jobsite’s location is close to several desirable destinations, including hiking trails, waterfalls (cascadas), a large outdoor pool, and a generally fascinating rainforest environment in post-hurricane recovery.

 

Welcome to El Yunque National Forest!

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the national forest system

This historic photo of Casa de Piedra was found on www.prfrogui.com, which shares a Spanish-language history of the site.

Scope of Work

Volunteers worked alongside HistoriCorps field staff to practice the skills necessary to accomplish our scope of work. Stone House’s roof and other elements were damaged during Hurricane Maria. On this project, HistoriCorps’ primary task was to carefully remove and document the original location of several building elements so that they will not become further damaged during upcoming roof reconstruction work.

We removed and documented these salvageable elements from Stone House:   (70% of total work)

  • Spanish cedar floorboards from interior
  • Paneling from interior walls, and document their original location
  • Interior doors
  • Interior transom windows
  • Loose tile
  • Historic bathroom fixtures
  • Other elements to be determined onsite

When this work is done, we:   (30% of total work)

  • Installed storm shutters and interior doors