Jul. 6—Many of Walker County’s greatest influencers and success stories have emerged from the Josey Lodge, through the Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts troops that have found opportunity for learning and growth on the historic property.
Now, the lodge’s board of trustees are asking for the community’s help in continuing to provide a space for future generations of movers and shakers to call home.
Time has taken its toll on the Josey Lodge and Caretaker’s Cabin, as both properties have remained largely untouched throughout their time serving the community’s youth. Only small repairs, upgrades and additions, such as heaters, a water fountain, the sprinkler system and free-standing handicap access ramps have been completed, with fundraising currently underway to address safety and security concerns with a $10,000 exterior lighting project.
Otherwise, the log buildings are exactly as they were when the lodge was first constructed and dedicated in 1934, followed by the Caretaker’s Cabin one year later — only worse for nearly 90 years of wear.
“Our historic buildings need a number of immediate repairs,” said Karla Christian, chairman of the Josey Scout Lodge board of trustees, listing off necessary reparations that have stacked up over the course of the properties’ lifetime.
At the heart of the Josey Scout Lodge’s 2.3 acreage, the Josey Lodge itself shows deteriorated logs making up its exterior that are in need of replacement, which adds an element of complexity in requiring specialized repair methods. The floors need refinishing, the windows need repairing or rebuilding to stay open and latch, while plumbing concerns need to be addressed. At the adjacent Caretaker’s Cabin, termite damage requires reparations and the building needs to be leveled, as well as making extensive repairs and upgrades to the plumbing and wiring.
Additionally, both buildings need new paint and weatherproof caps placed on the petrified wood chimneys. As for the sprawling grounds, erosion issues have caused misdirected drainage and the upper parking lot needs to be filled and graded.
As a privately owned landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, the Josey Scout Lodge board of trustees face no restrictions on renovations they wish to apply to the properties. However, they will have to uphold the property’s historic integrity through its first-ever renovation to remain on the register.
“We are very careful to maintain the integrity of the original structures to the extent it’s possible to do so. We will not alter the construction of the buildings themselves other than to make repairs,” Christian added. “When we are forced to replace hardware such as is found on the windows, we will reuse the originals where we can, or find comparable pieces.”
Overall, the Josey Scout Lodge trustees estimated the cost of the renovation to be well into the six-figure mark, however, Christian notes that building supplies has undergone a dramatic markup since that estimate was made, making their financial goal uncertain as of now.
Fundraising efforts are being managed by a subcommittee of the Josey Scout Lodge board of trustees and led by member Gene Roberts. So far, the subcommittee’s fundraising strategies include utilizing an online donation platform, beginning a letter writing committee to their extensive contact database, as well as speaking to numerous civic, historical and Scouting organizations about their needs. The trustees are also looking into various grants and similar programs, while actively seeking monetary and relevant in-kind donations.
Early next year the lodge will host its inaugural Chilly at the Lodge, a chili cook-off benefitting the lodge renovations. The event will be open to the public, with live entertainment and chili tasting, and will feature divisions for community adults, youth and International Chili Society cooks to compete.
Until then, the community and friends of the lodge are encouraged to donate online at www.donate.joseyscoutlodge.org.