Sears and Roebuck barn re-purposed
Mark Harms and Kim Buethe were married in 1990 and then moved to the Buethe farm in 1992 to a farmstead owned by her parents, Don and Peggy Buethe, one-fourth mile east of Kim’s home place.
The farm had been established by Kim’s great-uncle and was known in the Buethe family as Cedar Hill Farms. It had a picturesque barn that had been ordered as a Sears-Roebuck kit around 1910.
Kim was the fourth generation of Buethes to live on the farm, and Mark had a passion to preserve as much of its history as possible.
When Kim’s parents retired and moved to Marion, the couple moved to the home place, and the Cedar Hill home was sold and moved off.
The old barn collapsed, and Mark started pulling out pieces of it that he wanted to save for posterity. He also saved much of the barn wood.
Mark tore down five or six old buildings on the home place, including a chicken barn, brooder house, two garages, a barn, and a washhouse. He also re-roofed and re-sided the 1910 barn on the home place. The house was remodeled and a new basement put under it.
When Mark found historic items, he set them aside and stored them.
“I didn’t want them to be lost,” he said.
But, what were they to do with all that material?
The couple was in the business of raising and selling seedstock and often had visitors or hired work crews.
“We had no place for them to get out of the weather,” Kim Harms said. “If it was rainy or hot, they gathered under a shade tree.”
They decided to add a 40x50-foot addition to a modern machine shed to create a place for them. They named it The Heritage Room and decorated it with barn wood, tin, and antique pieces Mark had collected.
The Heritage Room is still a work in progress but is largely complete. Grimmett Construction of Florence is doing the work.
It is a magnificent tribute to the five generations of Buethes that have operated the ranch. Mark and Kim’s daughter, Taylor, and her husband, Chase, work on the ranch.
The building includes a large gathering area, a kitchen, and a bathroom. A second-story loft leads to a climate-controlled bedroom complete with washer and dryer. The doors, bed frame, and headboard are all made of barn wood.
“Someone might be traveling through or coming to look at bulls and needing a place to stay,” Kim said. “Or, we might have an intern someday who could stay there.”
Two wooden bunk beds built by the contractor sit on the balcony and can be used by work crews.
Walls are lined with barn wood and tin, and many original doors and other doors constructed with barn wood can be found throughout the room.
A large hayloft barn door hangs on one wall, and a track that was used to carry hay into the barn extends into the room from the door and is anchored on a steel girder.
The machinery for operating a hammermill for making ground feed was reconstructed, complete with pulleys and belts, and sits along one wall.
Planks from old horse stalls and hay mangers were used to make doors and dividing walls.
In the kitchen, cabinet doors are made of tin framed with barn wood. A pecan plank on a limestone base provides a counter. Extending out over the countertop is a tin roof from an old chicken barn.
A large painting of a Hereford bull hangs on a kitchen wall. The ranch originally produced Hereford cattle. The painting was cut from a wall in one of the barns and framed.
A major attraction is a large cupola that Harms removed from the Sears-Roebuck barn. The contractor cut it up into four pieces to get it into the room and then re-assembled it. The metal cupola has an overhead lamp fixture that has been rewired to work.
“My dad used to climb up on the barn roof to change the bulb,” Kim said.
The cupola sits on a wrap-around bench base.
Two other smaller cupolas with a wooden bench between them sit up on the loft. A barn door hangs on the wall. They were taken from the old chicken house.
Other antiques that adorn the place include an old telephone, rocking horse, cream cans, scale, and many other items too numerous to mention.
Workmen are busy constructing a handicap-accessible covered entrance to the room.
Kim plans to enlarge and frame historic photos to hang on the walls.
The couple is looking forward to having a place to entertain people.
“We’ve wanted to have appreciation dinners for our many customers,” Kim said. “Now, we’ll have a place to do that.”
They are hoping to use the new room for their son, Payton’s high school graduation reception later this month.
Last modified May 10, 2018