Wisconsin Town Restores Stone Barn

Once renovations are finished, the Stone Barn will house an agricultural museum, as well as a large open space which will be used as a venue for various events such as town meetings, auctions, antique shows, dances, and weddings.

Credit: Courtesy of Town of Chase

Next month, Chase, Wisc., will take the first steps toward creating a museum inside of the town's iconic stone barn. The Chase Stone Barn Fundraising Picnic on June 6 will benefit restoration of the barn, and construction of an adjacent park.

The barn, one of the last surviving structures of its kind, is made almost entirely of stone from local fields. The stones were handpicked by farmer Daniel Krause, the 1903 barn's original owner and architect. He designed the structure with two large arched doorways on either end, making it more accessible for hay wagons.

The Krause family sold their farm in 1920, and over the next few decades the property changed hands several times. Brothers Casmir and Stanley Frysh purchased it in 1954. In the years that followed, potential buyers—from car dealers to restaurant owner—approached the Frysh brothers, but they felt it was important to use the building for its original purpose. In 1995, at the behest of the nearby Pulaski Historical Society, the Fryshes hired a company to complete much-needed repairs. They also began successful efforts to have the building placed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places. By 2004, the Frysh brothers had died, leaving the land to a niece, who later sold the barn to Mary and Harold Peterson. Upon learning of Chase's keen interest in the structure, the Petersons sold it to the town, who became the official owner on May 16, 2007.

The Stone Barn Committee, formed in 2007, hopes to keep the barn as historically authentic as possible. "Our goal is to keep it very original," says committee member Kris Kolkowski. "We want people to walk in and actually feel like they're in a barn." Committee members hope that the barn will open within three years.

Today, the committee is focused on fundraising. In addition to renovation and landscaping costs, the Town of Chase must raise funds to repay the loan taken out to help purchase the land. Though an official campaign has yet to begin, the Stone Barn Committee has received financial help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Jeffris Family Foundation. Officials estimate that they still need an additional $450,000. Kolkowski is hopeful that money generated from the park (which will open before the barn) will help to defray costs.

The committee is optimistic that residents will give not only money but time and materials to repair the barn. "Fundraising is one thing," says Kolkowski. "But our main concern remains saving the barn. Of course, money has to be behind that, but preservation is our priority, and we'll get that done any way we can."

For more information, visit www.townofchase.org

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