The history and architecture of the Grimm-Schultz Farmstead are intertwined. The buildings were constructed for specific reasons using local materials and methods combined with historical vernacular styles. Each structure is representative of its time, place, and use while contributing to the Farmstead's whole. The functions of the Farmstead's outbuildings were adapted over the decades, but they contribute to the Farmstead's designation as a "historic district."
If Only the Stone Walls Could Talk...
Would the limestone walls of the 1880’s Grimm-Schultz Farmstead express pride in the recent listing on the National Register of Historic Places? Or would they whisper that stone walls outlive their masons and their occupants, but that they carry stories of the past into the future for those who listen carefully? That future for the Grimm-Schultz Farmstead is a little more secure when the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service on October 5, 2020. The Kansas State Historical Society supported the application for national listing after reviewing the property in August through a virtual meeting.
Although Wabaunsee County residents may have noticed the steel-fabricated sign south of the old K-10 Highway naming the Farmstead in the front lawn, passing folks may not be aware of the number of stone buildings on the property. From historic preservationist, Susan Jezak Ford’s application, “Built between 1875 and 1915, the farmstead's historic buildings include five primary farm structures—a stone house, stone barn, stone corn crib/wash house, stone and frame granary, and a frame and concrete hay shed. Secondary structures include the cattle shed built along a stone wall, spring house ruins, stone walls, and a modern metal shed.” These contributing buildings and structures ensured that the Grimm-Schultz Farmstead is designated as its own historic district. With camera and notebook in hand, Susan recognized the whispers of the stone walls during her second visit to the Main House in February 2020. Susan’s first visit to the Farmstead was in 1995 or so while in graduate school. She visited the farmstead with KU School of Architecture professors, Dennis Domer and Michael Swann, in preparation for the yearly national conference of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.
Jason Droge, owner of Footprint Construction in the Topeka area, spent hours within the Main House on the second floor to begin the renovation in March that is still ongoing. Working primarily alone as he remediated modern materials, furnishings, and decoration from the interior, Jason would generally wear earbuds to listen to a psychological mystery book-on-tape. As Jason began to remove layer after layer of carpet, linoleum, faux paneling, wallpaper over sheetrock, acoustical tiles in the ceiling, modern light fixtures--- to find the “bones” of the limestone house, he listened to the stone walls talk to him. Jason believed he shared good company of the past inhabitants and visitors while he worked to reveal the original structure.
One whimsical discovery was that the entire second floor was covered in 5-inch planks of native Douglas Fir from the western states, likely brought to Alma by train. With concern that the existing floor would require multiple patches due to various heating designs over the past century, Jason made the surprising discovery of a Douglas Fir platform in the attic when the attic ceiling fan was removed. Jason concluded that the builders wanted to protect the expensive wood, store it safely, and have a supply for the future.
Carla Craven, of Surfaces Designs in Kansas City, grew up on a dairy farm in Albany, Missouri, loves and lives the semi-rural lifestyle, and has a practiced eye for authentic detail. She insisted the wainscoting in the Farmstead’s parlor was original, and she verified that claim with Cindy and Leland Schultz, the previous inhabitants of the Farmstead along with their two girls, Cassie and Callie. Carla watched the light coming from the numerous windows at various times of day to choose the paint colors with historical authenticity and convinced our renovation team that the 18-inch deep window openings were “picture frames” for the delicious landscapes visible in every direction. When the Schultz family would come to review progress, they used words like “cozy,” “comfortable,” and phrases like “it looks like it has always been this way.” Sourcing from consignment stores, garage sales, toney on-line providers, and the owner’s basement, Carla has created a home environment that the community and visiting artists will use. When the owner asked for an expression of diversity to be reflected within the house, Carla painted individual, non-matching Windsor chairs in a rainbow of colors all seated at a hand-built cherry table in the ground floor parlor. The visual metaphor clearly demonstrates that everyone in Wabaunsee County is welcome at the Grimm-Schultz Farmstead.
Published in 2021 by The Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise.
Through the Years
The Grimm-Schultz Farmstead
Gustav Carl & Auguste Schultz Family
Gustav Carl Schultz
Lincoln B. Willets
Leland W. & Cindy Schultz Family
Main House completed in1880
George & Sarah Grimm Family
Charles F. Horne & Wife
William & Mary Schultz Family
The buildings at Grimm-Schultz Farmstead were constructed for specific reasons using local materials and methods combined with a historical vernacular architecture style. Each structure is representative of its time, place, and use while contributing to the Farmstead's whole. The functions of some of the Farmstead's outbuildings changed over the years, but they continued to serve as useful, attractive structures.