NYA hall in Huff

Paulette Bullinger's family has been restoring a Depression-era, vertical log community hall built by the National Youth Administration in Huff, a tiny town near the Missouri River. Bullinger's family plans to use the former hall as a family day cabin. Installing a steel roof has been the biggest budget item of the project.

HUFF -- Treasures from the past have literally come out of the woodwork for Paulette Bullinger.

"When I cleaned up, took the cross braces out, I found this, dated," she said, tapping a strip of wood marked "2/25/48 Knights of Columbus."

Since early this year, Bullinger's family has been restoring a Depression-era log community hall in Huff for use as a family day cabin. In doing so, they've found an array of items from Huff's past. 

She paged through a German devotional printed in 1927, pointed out nails distanced on the walls for hanging coats and described dusty post office fixtures from her mother's days as Huff's postmaster. Huff is a town of 20 people on the Missouri River south of Mandan.

Bullinger's family last spring installed a new steel roof on the aging hall built in the 1930s by the National Youth Administration, a federal work program associated with the Works Progress Administration.

Weather and costs affected the pace of restorations on the hall. Bullinger said the new roof was a big-budget item.

Her family also installed steel roofing on an outbuilding and two outhouses. They also removed a shedlike vestibule not original to the hall and went through the various items inside, from pews to tables, chairs to a boat motor, now neatly organized for wherever they might go next.

Kevin Carvell, of Mott, led a field trip last summer for Preservation North Dakota, a nonprofit that supports prairie architecture. The trip from Bismarck to Fort Yates made a stop at the hall in Huff. Carvell, now retired from the group, called the hall "a modest little building."

"It's got this charming history," he said, pointing out few Depression-era projects of the Works Progress Administration or Civilian Conservation Corps remain standing. "Huff is just a wee spot on the road, but that could be an attractive community center or focal point for that community."

Bullinger said her next goal is to clean up the building's walls and arrange photos. She'd also like to get to sanding the wood floor and mitigate rotting of the exterior's vertical logs.

"The floor is actually in pretty good shape," she said. "Getting that roof on was the big thing."

Her family also would like to install electricity for their RV and maybe run some power into the hall.

"You can't do anything here without having some form of electricity, like if you want to make coffee," said Bullinger, who with her husband, Bob, runs Circle Diamond Ranch Supply in Mandan.

She bought the hall a year ago from her brother. Their father acquired it from St. Martin's Catholic Church in Huff and used it for storage and furniture handiwork.

Bullinger could see it aging and wanted to save the building steeped in local history.

"I just didn't want to see it die a slow death," she said.

Get News Alerts delivered directly to you.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.