A Cellar of Stone

November 17, 2017

Seirer_171105_0175.jpgSeirer_171105_0175.jpgA Cave of Stone Finding limestone plentiful and trees scarce, early homesteaders in Wabaunsee County adapted by turning to grazing for their livelihood and stone for their building material. And one of the first structures typically built was a subterranean room with a stone-arched roof, such as this one. The structures perhaps provided temporary housing, but their more enduring purpose was to serve as root cellars and storm shelters. And endure they have. Tom Parish of Emporia has researched, explored and photographed more than 200 stone cellars in a five-county area of the Flint Hills, a project begun as part of his graduate work in arts at Kansas State University. He leads occasional cave tours arranged through The Volland Store, a restored hardware store that today serves as an art gallery and meeting space in what might best be described as the Volland ghost town. Parish said many early settlers to Wabaunsee County were Volga-Germans emigrating from Russian, and they brought with them familiarity with stone construction. With limestone near the surface and exposed in hillsides of the Flint Hills, they had easy access to ample supply. Parish’s cellar inventory includes many instances where limestone homes were later built either atop the original cellar, or nearby. Other outbuildings, all of stone, are often nearby. Most are in good shape, though many are no longer used. Parish has heard some present-day residents say they’ve never explored the cellar on their property. For more about Parish’s stone-arch cellar project, check out his website at www.flinthillshelters.com

 

Finding limestone plentiful and trees scarce, early homesteaders in Wabaunsee County adapted by turning to grazing for their livelihood and stone for their building material. And one of the first structures typically built was a subterranean room with a stone-arched roof, such as this one. The structures perhaps provided temporary housing, but their more enduring purpose was to serve as root cellars and storm shelters. And endure they have. Tom Parish of Emporia has researched, explored and photographed more than 200 stone cellars in a five-county area of the Flint Hills, a project begun as part of his graduate work in arts at Kansas State University. He leads occasional cave tours arranged through The Volland Store, a restored hardware store that today serves as an art gallery and meeting space in what might best be described as the Volland ghost town. Parish said many early settlers to Wabaunsee County were Volga-Germans emigrating from Russian, and they brought with them familiarity with stone construction. With limestone near the surface and exposed in hillsides of the Flint Hills, they had easy access to ample supply. Parish’s cellar inventory includes many instances where limestone homes were later built either atop the original cellar, or nearby. Other outbuildings, all of stone, are often nearby. Most are in good shape, though many are no longer used. Parish has heard some present-day residents say they’ve never explored the cellar on their property. For more about Parish’s stone-arch cellar project, check out his website at www.flinthillshelters.com

 


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