Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
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  • 209 The Farmhouse

    Arthur (left), Verna (center), & daughter Irma (right) at back of house.

    Alvin addresses building the house.

    The Schumacher kids on the front porch.

    Alvin showcases the features of the house.

    Although the first farmhouse on the site may have been built in the 1860s, the foundation you see now dates to about 1924. When the Schumachers moved here in 1921, the house then at the site was in disrepair and uninhabitable. They negotiated with the owner at the time and were provided the materials for rebuilding, but the family did most of the actual construction themselves. Inside the foundation you can see dressed native limestone peeking through the concrete skim coat. We think this suggests that during the 1920s construction, elements of an earlier structure’s foundation were incorporated.

    The home the Schumachers built here was state of the art for its time. Period photos show a handsome, bungalow-influenced home with face brick on all four sides. It boasted indoor plumbing, an electric refrigerator (versus an “ice box”), an electric washing machine, an electric stove and a telephone. The room-like feature you see in the back-left corner of the basement was a cistern to capture soft rainwater for washing.

    The large section of the foundation on the west (your right as you view the house) that is missing was removed in 1941 to facilitate the Army’s moving of the house. Alvin witnessed a moving company taking their old home down Blodgett Road, destined for the Elwood Ordnance Plant's administrative and housing area on South Arsenal Road. The structure was likely torn down in 2005 or 2006 as part of the development of the Island City Industrial Park. Arthur and his brother-in-law bought the other Fairview Farm buildings, dismantled the barn, and used the lumber for their new farms that they would establish in Plano, Illinois.

     

    We hope you enjoyed your farmyard walk.


    Return to the gravel trail, and turn left to return to the parking lot.