Christmas at the Poorhouse
A large crowed visited the Poorhouse on Dec. 3 & 4, 2016 for the annual Christmas open house. The decorations were lovely, the goodies delicious and the atmosphere warm and welcoming.
Three homes and a barn received awards for the way their owners have returned them to their former glory.
The Church Farm - Preservation
In July 2016 Barbara Church and her husband moved into the Camden home her parents had inhabited until they died at ages 99 and 101! The barn was originally too far from the house so it was moved with horses and a sledge. It had plastic letters on it that were nice in identifying to whom it belonged ... but they were damaged and not particularly true to the period of the barn. When the painter worked on the barn he carefully drew around the letters and then removed them so he could hand paint new letters. Amish were hired to remove the sheds around the barn because they were not salvageable, and the barn, tilted out after settling, was pulled back into place.
The Kessler-Seaney Home - Preservation
Richard Kessler and Roger Seaney are only the third owners of their 1840 home, which they rented and then purchased in 1963. It's probably the oldest wood home in Hillsdale, a fact deduced by the side lights and fan window at the front door, which were used until the 1860s. The Kessler-Miner Funeral Home was one of the largest in Hillsdale in the 1800s. At an auction, Kessler and Seaney found the stained glass windows that were originally in the funeral home. They were included in the addition to the back of the home, which was true to the Greek Revival architecture of the original. In 2013 all the siding was removed and replaced by cedar siding. Only the replacement vinyl window keep this home from being "renovated" (which requires that all materials used to have been available at the time of its building).
The Robert and Barbara Watkins Home - Restoration
In 1835 William Burke received a land grant for the land on which this home sits. In 1859 William and Mary Watkins purchased the land. Then William and Eliza Watkins purchased it in 1920, William J. and Maud Watkins in the 1950s, Victor and Mary Watkins in the 1970s, and now it is owned by Robert and Barbara Watkins. The 12-room home in Allen was built in 1879 as a 3000 sq.ft. Italianate. It's supported by a brick cross that goes from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor. Amazingly, heat was part of the original house.
A separate small house is also on the property. It was used by the younger family, while the big house was for the grandparents. Astonishingly, no children were ever raised in the big house.
After 34 windows were replaced by Robert and Barbara, the first floor was renovated. Many layers of wall paper were removed, with samples of each layer kept so that a period match could be found. Barbara has lovingly created gardens, each surrounded by stones found on the property.
The Donald and Mary Smith Home - Preservation
The Sesquicentennial Farm of Donald and Mary Smith was built in 1860. It is a very small home that has been lovingly restored and filled with antiques from that period. It was made of split field stone.
In 1839 James Cook, Mary's great-great grandfather, came to Hillsdale County. He bought the property in Litchfield in 1853. Electricity had been added in 1947. Donald and Mary are the sixth generation to live in the home. They bought it in 1984 and began the laborious process of bringing it up to date without destroying its historic nature. Donald took the interior walls down to the stone so he could insulate them. Double doors and shutters had been removed and stored in an outbuilding. They were retrieved and replaced. An addition, consistent with the original home, was added to the back. The Lantis family rents the land to farm.
The Little White House on the Hill - Fairgrounds Museum
Fair Week wasn't so great weather-wise, but that didn't keep lots of people from visiting the Museum and the Peanut Tent. Our special exhibits this year included treasures from all four historical societies in Hillsdale County: Allen Area, Litchfield Area, The Grosvenor House Museum and Hillsdale County. It was very special.
The Will Carleton Farm Festival
August 6 was a beautiful summer day ... perfect for the annual Farm Festival, co-sponsored with the Center Adams Antique Power and Equipment Club. We thank the crafters who gave us their time and talent at the Farm Festival: flint knapper Norm Blaker, wood carvers Norville Cramer, Roger Poley and Leo Barr, needle worker Gloria Clark and quilters Clair Booth, Robin Bartels and Velia Lauerman and weaver Katya.
Along with the threshing machine, the old tractors and their proud owners provided a fun show.
Our New Roof!
Braman Roofing replaced the roof that originally was installed in 1987, when the Poorhouse was being renovated after being deeded to the Hillsdale County Historical Society by Bob Evans Farms. (Here's more about that massive effort if you'd like to see what it entailed: http://www.hillsdalehistoricalsociety.org/renovating-will-carleton-poorhouse/.)