Project goal: Repair the crumbling living-room fireplace in Yosemite’s 100-year-old Rangers’ Club, a National Historic Landmark.

Why this work matters: The Rangers’ Club, located across from Yosemite Village in Yosemite Valley, opened in 1920 through an early act of park philanthropy: Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, personally donated the funds to build the club. The two-story wood-framed chalet, built in the National Park Service “rustic style” of architecture that reflects natural surroundings, was designed to house park staff — a role it continues to serve, 100 years later. 

Throughout the past century, residents and guests have gathered around the focal point of the Rangers’ Club living room: a stone fireplace. While other parts of the club have benefited from restoration work over the years, the fireplace, a feature that helped the building earn its National Historic Landmark designation in 1987, has fallen into disrepair. Mortar has tumbled out of the hearth, and a patchwork of informal repairs has left scars on the stonework. This project restored the fireplace’s structural integrity and historical character.

How your support helped: Your donations helped he park’s historic preservation crew replace crumbling mortar, using special materials and techniques to match the historical structure. They also repaired the firebox and reinstalled the original fireplace tool holder.

“To complete the restoration of this focal feature on such a magnificent and important structure, 100 years to the month, has been a source of inspiration and pride for the entire crew,” project manager Matt Bablitch wrote. “When word got out around the park that we were executing this project many people dropped by to see the work in progress (at a safe six-foot distance of course.) It was great to see so many people take interest in the building and its story.”

Their work made an actively used fireplace more welcoming — and safe — while ensuring a key element of the building’s historic designation remains structurally sound for years to come. To learn more about the building and the fireplace restoration, read our October 2020 “100 Years of the Rangers’ Club” blog post.

Project partner: Yosemite National Park.

Kent van Wagtendonk

Fire GIS Specialist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Yosemite is now in a unique situation to address unprecedented challenges to managing natural and cultural resources, fire, facilities, and visitor use in the face of changing climate and visitation patterns."