Thunderbird Lodge

2014 Photo: Thunderbird Lodge
The Thunderbird Lodge, also called the Salomon Lodge or the Thunderbird Nest, is a two-story building of native Arkansas fieldstone that served as the headquarters of Kia Kima. It is located at Old Kia Kima.
1935 Photo: Interior of Thunderbird Lodge

Interior (1935)

The building was built in 1928 through a donation by Edward M. Salomon of $1,500. Following his donation in 1928, Salomon was elected as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Chickasaw Council for 1929 and became the Council President in 1930. He died in 1935.

The name of the building likely changed from Salomon to Thunderbird after the camp re-opened in 1948. At the same time, the thunderbird was adopted as the emblem of Kia Kima.

When in operation, the first floor served as the camp office while the second floor housed the Camp Director and his family.

1960c. Photo: Kia Kima Truck in front of Thunderbird Lodge

1960c.

During the restoration by the Old Kia Kima Preservation Association, it was determined that one of the outer walls would need to be reinforced to ensure the structural integrity. The decision was made to add a fieldstone stairwell and buttressing tower to stabilize the northern façade.

This restoration demonstrates the difference between the historic Rustic Style architecture that was common in the region and modern architecture. The original portions of the building feature stones that are laid flat on top of each other. The modern portions of the building have the flat-portions of the stone facing outwards. This has the modern advantage of needing less material, but it is in stark contrast to the original style.

Following the restoration, the second floor does not occupy the entire floor-plan as it once did, but is instead a mezzanine. The slots that once housed the floor beams for the second floor are visible in the wall.

Currently, the first floor is an open gathering space while the second floor houses the Old Kia Kima museum. Old Kia Kima, including the Thunderbird Lodge, is listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places under two criteria: "for its association with the history of the Boy Scouts in the surrounding region" and "for its use of Rustic Style architecture with local significance."

Thunderbird Lodge