A New Roof for the Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Center
7.1.19 – Adam R. Thompson
In March the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community awarded a $50,000 grant toward the restoration of the Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Center in Walthill, NE. This generous gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community allowed the non-profit to replace the Center’s roof. This is a key step toward improving the building’s structural integrity.
As the before pictures show, the roof was in desperate need of being replaced with deteriorating shingles, holes and rotting wood. The after pictures show the startling transformation to the building after the repairs, with a weather proof roof providing protection from the elements, eliminating leaks and protecting the building from further water damage until the next stages of renovation can take place.
Established by Dr. Picotte, in 1913 the center served as a hospital and community center through 1940. As the first Native American to receive a medical license, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte dedicated her professional life to serving her Omaha people and those residing in and around northeastern Nebraska. The community center, which was the first non-federally funded hospital to be established on a reservation, was Dr. Picotte’s final undertaking. It stands as a monument to her legacy of care and compassion. Hence, it is registered as a National Historic Landmark.
Last year, the building was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of 11 most endangered historic places in the U.S. because of its deteriorating condition. A $100,00 USDA Rural Development grant was awarded to program partner, the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs in July of that year. These grant funds enabled the group to contract with Heartland Leadership and BVH Architecture to conduct a thorough building assessment and develop a strategic restoration plan for the structure as necessary first steps in addressing the buildings condition.That plan focuses on securing a weather tight building envelope.
The Shakopee funded roof replacement helped the restoration project meet a critical goal and also served to build renewed community interest in the center and the project as an integral part of the community’s development. With the successful completion of the USDA grant project on June 31 and the submission of several pending grant applications, the project continues to build momentum, with next steps of continuing work to secure the structural integrity of the building, soliciting donations from private funders and foundations, and continuing the development of specific building use and programing.
Upon seeing the progress and new roof Honorary Chairperson of the Board Advisory Committee and First Lady of Nebraska, Susanne Shore said, “I am so happy to see a new roof on the building and the completion of the building restoration plan. These are great first steps toward the restoration of this historic building and honoring the legacy of Dr. La Flesche.”