CACHE, Okla._The Comanche Nation is asking for help to save a house in Cache that belonged to Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief.
It has been a year since anyone has been allowed to enter the Quanah Park Star House due to safety concerns. Tribal members say the house was further damaged following flooding in May. The home was built around 1890 on Fort Sill, but was moved to Cache in 1958 where it now sits.
Neither the family nor the Comanche Nation own the Star House. It is still held by a private owner who is unable to afford the repairs. The Comanche Nation is currently working to create a non-profit group for the Star House, but say it's still in its infancy stages. In the meantime, Quanah Parker's family is asking for donations, large or small, so they can save the house before it's too far gone.
Artifacts like rugs and furniture that belonged to Quanah Parker were dragged out of the home and left outside to dry after the floods in May. And since then, they've been left exposed to the elements.
"Everything pulled out was part of the damage. The carpet was still there and everything. Furniture and a lot of the furniture is original," said Parker's great-granddaughter Ardith Parker Leming.
Leming says seeing the house in its dilapidated state is heartbreaking. She says in its glory days, her family hosted reunions, dances and weddings at the Star House, including her own in 2006.
"We had our ceremony in the teepee, but we exited from one of the bedrooms out the front door and we had traditional Native American music and singing and we also had the reception inside the house," Leming explained.
Leming says this is the worst she has seen the house after her family tried to keep it up for years for their family and the public to enjoy.
"Raccoons or varmints in the attic knock down a little panel board above and then things would start falling through on the dining room table. The floors would get weak because there were so many tours. They would give so many, but that eventually got unsafe, but we cleaned it regardless of what it looked like," Leming said.
Leming says the Star House is a piece of her heart and a piece of the Parker ancestry, a piece of history that they do not want to lose.
"Our home. I mean everything in there. Every wall, every piece of furniture, every chair he has sat on or anyone's family of the descendants means something to walk, to step inside we know that that is where he started us and brought us that far," Leming said.
With the help of a $15,000 grant given to fund historic preservation, the tribe was able to hire an engineer to come out and look at the house earlier this week. However, there is no official word on how much the repairs will cost.