HistoriCorps Celebrates 10 Years of Saving Special Places by Engaging Volunteers to Restore Puerto Rico’s Stone House Damaged by Hurricane

The Stone House, or Casa de Piedra was the first permanent building built by the Civilian Conservation Corps on the El Yunque National Forest about 20 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy: Public Affairs Specialist, USDA. 

DENVER, CO – HistoriCorps is celebrating its 10th anniversary by restoring one of the oldest Civilian Conservation Corps era buildings on Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest; the building was damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

HistoriCorps staff and volunteers will work with volunteers from Puerto Rico and the El Yunque National Forest to restore the Stone House, or Casa de Piedra from February 9 to 15, 2020. This was the first permanent building built by the Civilian Conservation Corps on the El Yunque National Forest about 20 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

According to Raymond Feliciano, heritage program manager at the El Yunque National Forest,

“The Stone House served as the first ranger station in the forest. It eventually became a recreation house for the Puerto Rico’s governors between the late 1930s through the early 1950s. During World War II, it was used as Army officer’s quarters as they operated various installations in the forest. Later, it became quarters for employees until 2007. Since then it has been vacant but was damaged by the Category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2017.”

HistoriCorps is a national organization that has completed 231 projects in 29 states and territories with volunteers contributing over 188,000 volunteer hours. The organization saves historic places across the United States, working with volunteers on projects that are truly an adventure in the great outdoors. People from all walks of life volunteer their time for a week or more to repair historically significant sites such as fire towers, ranger cabins, mining complexes, humble slave dwellings, an African American schoolhouse, iconic lodges, and legendary ranches. These structures all tell stories about America’s past, and when preserved, the stories will continue for generations to come.

HistoriCorps staff and volunteers will work with volunteers from Puerto Rico and the El Yunque National Forest to restore the Stone House, or Casa de Piedra from February 9 to 15, 2020. This was the first permanent building built by the Civilian Conservation Corps on the El Yunque National Forest about 20 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy: Public Affairs Specialist, USDA. 

Through engaging volunteers from Puerto Rico and elsewhere, HistoriCorps is contributing to ongoing recovery on the island. On this restoration project, volunteers will be removing and documenting salvageable elements from the Stone House including Spanish cedar floorboards, paneling from interior walls, doors and windows, loose tile and historic bathroom fixtures.

Historic photo of The Stone House, or Casa de Piedra, the oldest Civilian Conservation Corps era buildings on Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest. Photo courtesy: Public Affairs Specialist, USDA. 

Anyone can volunteer on future 2020 HistoriCorps projects. Crews of volunteers including students, retirees, youth conservation corps and people who simply want to spend their work vacation on a project in the wilderness, team up with expert field staff to learn preservation skills and put those skills to work saving historic places that have fallen into disrepair. No previous construction experience is required – just a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and the willingness to help hammer, reroof, chisel, repair, and replace materials – all in a communal effort to bring historic buildings back to life. Each project is different and varies due to location, weather, and project needs. During a HistoriCorps project, volunteers can expect to make new friends, learn new skills, create life-long memories and have fun.

HistoriCorps believes in partnerships to get the job done. To learn more about volunteering on a 2020 project or becoming a corporate or individual partner, visit https://historicorps.org

El Yunque National Forest is a treasure. Even though it’s one of the smallest national forests in the system, it’s the only tropical rainforest, and also one of the most biologically diverse. Hundreds of animal and plant species call El Yunque home, and some of them are only found there. Read more about the forest and its ongoing hurricane recovery efforts here.

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