I purchased the Willits’ property in 1994 after Harold Willits asked if I would be interested in buying the farm. Willits’ 160 acres adjoined my farm and I had rented pasture from him.
Because of my interest in antiques and stone buildings, I have always wanted to restore the Old Stone Building and Mr. Willits gave me two metal stars that he had saved that go on the outside of the stone building to help hold the walls together. Mr. Willits died earlier this year at the age of 92. I am sorry he did not get to see the Old Stone Building restored.
About the restoration… I kept waiting for the money to complete the project, but there never seemed to be enough. This year, I decided I would start the project and do as much as I could so the building would not continue to deteriorate. I am hopeful that there will be many individuals interested in the preservation of historic structures so that this project will be completed.
Several years ago I visited Jerome, Arizona. There was an old museum there that had a non-operable gold mine, a saw mill, hundreds of old rusty implements, and a variety of small animals running around for children to pet. I would like to have a similar place where people – young and old – could see and experience the past. Ever since I envisioned the project, I have been collecting blacksmith tools. I have two forges (neither are a down draft forge of the type that was used in the Old Stone Building), a line shaft (out of an old blacksmith shop in Clinton, Kansas), a disk sharpener (from a blacksmith shop in Shelbyville, Illinois), and a power hammer (from Robert Brink, made in St. Louis in 1901). I also have several old farming implements, including a 1941 John Deere B styled tractor and a 1927, 125 hp, LeRoy 4 cylinder engine to run my saw mill.
I thank you for reading this, and hope that you too can believe in and support the renovation of the Old Stone Building.