Hays Tavern

Honor Award for Excellence in Restoration
Hays Tavern (Hays House), Council Grove (Morris County)

Standing as a reminder of the western trail days in Kansas, the Hays Tavern was built in 1857. Sitting straight to the Santa Fe Trail (and now askew with present day Main Street), the present building was constructed on the site of Seth Hays’ original 1847 log cabin trading post and restaurant. After an 1886 fire on Main Street the gable roof was replaced with a flat roof, and the 2nd floor became apartments. Over the years, the building served many other uses: a home, saloon, blacksmith shop, barber shop, dry goods, US post office, US courthouse, and a supply house. Beginning in 1974, the building became the destination Hays House Restaurant it is still known as today. In the 1970s, the original façade was removed and replaced with cedar board and batten siding. Over time, the porch beams, columns, and the cedar siding began to suffer from weather damage and rot, making the façade and the porch unstable. In 2015, the present project was begun, with scope to include new windows, façade, and a new porch to match the 1903 iteration of the building, as well as accessibility and life safety upgrades to the exterior. On the 2nd floor of the porch, a custom woodwork shop in California duplicated the original spindles, matched from historic photographs. The columns of the porch were 3D scanned and replicated with a CNC machine by a cabinet shop in Manhattan. The new porch beams and decking were designed to meet modern code for an assembly occupancy, and the ADA entrance ramp was designed with a gentle slope to avoid the requirement for handrails. New doors and windows for the façade were built by a historic window manufacturer in Kansas City. With the transformation complete, the Hays Tavern is ready to invite 21st century guests of the Hays House Restaurant to take a step back in time to the dusty trail. A Heritage Trust Fund grant was used to fund this restoration.

The project team included: Ben Moore Studio; VMT Engineering; KBS Constructors; Ranson Financial Consultants, LLC; Flint Hills Investors, LLC; Hartman Masonry LC; Kanscape Photography; Triple A Glass; and Dillon Painting.