The farm came into the family in 1887. John Armstrong, father of Harvey Armstrong, started farming first. Francis Armstrong, daughter of Harvey Armstrong, married Boyd Kettering and took over the farming operation. In 1959, Doug Kettering, their eldest son, and wife, Lynn, took over and farmed it another 58 years. They retired from farming and moved into Rushville to a smaller more manageable home. This left “The Old Homestead” empty and needing a caretaker, so Lisa, youngest daughter of Doug and Lynn Kettering, moved in the Spring of 2012.
Coming from a farming family, the old barn was used to house horses, milk cows, corn crib storage, farm machinery and cars in the winter. Doug decided to expand his need for storage and added the machine shed in 1976 and covered the old barn with sheet metal to preserve the wood underneath from the harsh elements.
Lisa did not farm but being a farmer’s daughter was very interested in preserving its historical value for family memories. The barn had several issues with bug damage, varmints living underneath the shed, and birds making homes in the rafters. She decided it needed to become a more purposeful building for her needs, so began Lisa’s vision of how she would make the barn come back to life. Luckily she had a partner at the time, that shared in her vision and they started their barn restoration project.
In order to start this journey, first they had to clean out the old barn, take out the upper hay loft that was falling down. Lisa used to have slumber parties and hunted many kitten litters as a child. Several main barn support beams had to be replaced along with missing barn wood from the walls within. Her vision also entailed putting barn siding on the complete interior of the machine shed. The entire floor of the old barn was gone or never had one, so they gave the entire building a floor. In order to do this, they would need a lot of old barn wood.
So the search for older barns started. They located several different old barns to use – one from the Gene Acheson family – long time family friends down the road about 3 miles. Gene’s children, Linda and Alan, agreed to sell one of their barns to be torn down. They worked over a year of tearing down all the wood in good shape and moved it back to their place. They located two other barns over by Chapin owned by Brad LaKamp. Although the barns were located about 35 miles away – having the ability to select all the wood and tin they needed was worth the drive. Sid Kettering offered up 15 old hog houses to repurpose the wood and tin roof too. The work had begun which was hard but exciting!!
The purchase of a BobCat tractor was the best investment. It was strong enough to pull down the barns and small enough to maneuver into the other barn moving in wood and beams. As nice it was having the BobCat, 75% of the work was done by hand with power tools i.e saws and drills going through many many blades and bits. All the wood had to be moved, sorted, power washed, denailed, cut and nailed in place. In fact, they kept all the blades and many nails in a large jar as a memento of all their ambitious work.
The floor in the barn is made from 2 1/2 inch thick oak boards. The dance floor materials were found on Facebook. It came in 4 x 5 ft sections of the Augusta High School gym floor that had been sold at auction and sawed apart. The wood was bought for $250 and delivered on site. That was the easy part. The gym floor had to be taken off the plywood, board by board, the stripes had to be removed and then all the ends needed to be reroutered in order to keep it in its tongue and groove formation. It was slowly nailed into place in a new 20 x 20 foot section. It makes a really great dance floor. Whether it was going to be used that way was yet to be determined, but it looked great!
In January 2013, Lisa’s niece, Brittany became engaged and inquired about how much longer it would be before the barn would be ready as she was interested in using it for their wedding reception. Her wedding date was date Oct 5th, 2013. Nothing like a deadline to get a project done, so they agreed to host their wedding at farm of Brittany’s great, great, great grandfather’s barn!!! Lisa is an avid collectors of primitive items and have many interesting objects to share with the public for their event.
The Old Homestead Event Barn sits on 5 acres which offers a setting to host a wedding ceremony and a reception. A large pond sits on the south end of the property that is teaming with hundreds of goldfish, a John Deere tractor fountain, and 30 newer established trees and bushes. The ceremony area now has a gazebo with barn beam benches and sliding barn doors at the entrance. The farmhouse is part of the rented venue giving parties the sunroom, kitchen and bathroom to prepare for weddings. The barn is located to the North of the house. With 5,000 square feet, the ceiling is draped with material and outfitted with 12 chandeliers plus cafe style lights leading out under the awning and over the driveway for romantic evenings. It is a seasonal place open from March to November but can be toured in any month. Comfort of heat can be added with rented propane heaters. Two bathrooms are located inside the barn with modern conveniences.