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Wolf House in Need of Finishing Touches
April 2002

The Wolf House Memorial Foundation Inc. is on a dual mission - it needs to raise funds right away as well as get some historical documents placed in an archival environment.

Richard Sheid, long-time friend of and driving force behind the foundation, said at a press conference Monday that the foundation is in the position to qualify for a 50/50 matching grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council. The grant could net the foundation nearly $31,500. Sheid said, which would be used to finish up much-needed interior restoration work. It also will be used to build signs and exhibits.

Historic Wolf House in Need of Finishing Touches

The foundation also aims to get some of its historical documents in a safe place. Bob Bounds, foundation board of directors member, said the group currently has 23 letters and notes dating back to the 1860s which are badly in need of preservation.

Wolf House is the oldest two-story log structure west of the Mississippi, according to Sheid. It is also the only territorial courthouse still standing in Arkansas. Named for its builder, Major Jacob Wolf, the Wolf House is considered one of the premiere historical and archaeological sites in Arkansas. Studies have revealed evidence of Native American habitation on the grounds long before the structure was built, as well as other structures built around the same time as the Wolf House.

"The letters are from John M. Casey to Major Wolf's youngest daughter Mary," Bounds said. "He was 21, and she was 16. You can't believe how schmaltzy some of them are."

But more than that, many of the letters are historically significant to Civil War buffs, as they were written during that time and specifically mention local efforts to rally the war efforts. Casey was a confederate soldier and surgeon. He and Mary eventually married, Bounds said.

Bounds explained the plan is to ask folks to purchase the letters - probably at a cost of $1,000 each, although the exact amount has yet to be determined - and then donate them to Arkansas State University Mountain Home's archives. Hopefully, the letters can be stored or displayed in a safe environment that would halt deterioration of the documents. Bounds said that the board of directors has not formally voted on the matter, but hopes that the letters will be available soon for purchase.

Sheid said the foundation plans to solicit donations from the private sector - both individuals and businesses - toward the matching funds grant.

"All donations, starting at $50, will be memorialized on plaques with the donors' names," Sheid said. "We want to recognize the people who give of their hard earned money to the project." He said that $50 donations will be memorialized on copper plaques, $100 on nickel, $200-$500 on bronze, $500-$1,000 on silver and $1000-plus on gold plaques.

"The donations are tax deductible. The Wolf House Memorial Foundation is a non-profit corporation," Sheid said.

"But the important thing right now is, we need $2,000-$2,500 to get the artisans back to complete the restoration they've already begun," Sheid said. "The interior walls need refinishing and we also need some fencing."

Built around 1829 as a county courthouse, the Wolf House was in a state of disrepair several years ago. But with the help of concerned citizens and a grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program the log structure is now nearing a complete and faithful renovation.

Sheid said that all that's left is the tail-end of the interior restoration. He said the same artisans that performed the initial work are ready to come back and finish what they started.

Later plans call for furnishing Wolf House with period pieces as well as some actual artifacts that once furnished the structure.

The Wolf House Dedication is slated for May 18 during Norfork's annual Pioneer Days. Donations may be made to: Wolf House Memorial Foundation, c/o First National Bank of Mountain Home. For more information, contact Sheid at 425-5165, Bounds at 499-5632, or foundation board president Harold Peek at 499-5503.

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