UPDATE ON “OUR” OUTHOUSE PROJECT
By WGS Pres. Paul W. Hutchins
As most of you are already aware, neither the City of Walnut nor the Layton Township Trustees have funds set aside for the restoration of the Layton Township Cemetery, the cemetery used by the City of Walnut.
The WGS has been working hard to restore the southside of that cemetery, being the oldest section of graves.
In 2000, we started plans to repair the retaining wall around the Comer/Carey family plot. We accepted donations, raised additional funds and even gave from our own finances to see the $1,500 project finished professionally and with much volunteer labor.
After that project was complete, we began to focus on the many grave stones that needed to be cleaned, up-righted or reset.. Again, we relied on volunteer workers and we provided the needed materials to begin the work, a project we are still continuing to accomplish.
We noticed the unique outhouse on the cemetery property. It has not been in use for years and its condition was in need of some major repairs, just to preserve this historic reminder of the past.
We received some bids for the work and realized it was going to be a major project.
We sought the advice of a professional in the field of historic preservation, Brian McCutchen of Avoca, IA.
Brian is an employee of the National Parks Service out of Omaha and has a personal interest in cemetery preservation.
Brian brought in some of his “expert” co-workers to look at the building and everyone advised us to seek preservation would be a worthy project, but a costly one as well.
It was suggested that we look into getting the southside of the cemetery, including the outhouse, on the National Historic Register. If we succeeded, it would probably become the first outhouse to be on the National Register.
With the much needed help of Brain, we are in the process of doing research on the cemetery and gathering information to document its history and prove its importance.
On October 2, members of the WGS, along with some interested community members, met with Brian and fellow National Parks Service employees Mark Chavez, Jim and Elizabeth Dickey, at the cemetery to investigate the outhouse in more detail, measuring it and taking pictures.
At this point, the assumption is that the outhouse might have been some sort of a ticket booth before it was moved to its present and, should I say, ‘final resting place.’
Anyone with any leads to information, please feel free to contact us.