Salvaging History whaLON BARN LIVES ON AFTER REMOVAL FROM FOREST PRESERVE

Every hook, rusty chain, pulley, nail, hinge and board that could be salvaged from the Whalon Lake Barn was salvaged as the structure was removed recently from its forest preserve home in Naperville.

While the barn no longer stands in the Whalon Lake preserve in Naperville, the structure has been mostly recycled by The Farmhouse, a Plainfield company that uses reclaimed wood for furniture and remodeling projects.

“We try to salvage as much of the valuable materials as possible,” said Cindy Payne who owns the company along with her husband, John, and Glen DeLaRosa and his wife, Lisa. “Every little piece has something interesting about it.”

Payne said she founded the company 18 months ago with contractor Glen DeLaRosa after the two worked together flipping homes for a couple of years and DeLaRosa expressed an interest in salvaging barns. They’ve dismantled seven barns so far ranging from update New York to Illinois with an eighth slated for salvage in Iowa. They make everything from picture frames and desk tops to dining room tables and interior siding out of the wood.

The company also is working on restoring an 1850 farmhouse built by the Fry family at the corner of 127th Street and Naperville-Plainfield Road in Plainfield. Once the work is completed in the spring or summer of 2017, The Farmhouse will have a retail shop and offices at the site.

Working to salvage and reuse old barns is truly rewarding work, Payne said. Everyone who buys a piece of an old barn gets a photo of the original structure and some of the history of the building.

“It just makes us feel really good we’re preserving a piece of history, and we’re sharing it with the local community,” she said.

The 2,580-square foot Whalon Lake timber barn built sometime in the 1880s was removed by The Farmhouse recently after the Forest Preserve District of Will County determined that the deteriorating building was too expensive to repair and it served no purpose within the District.

Photos courtesy of Glen DeLaRosa

Peotone-based Lee Werner Excavating was hired to remove the barn, located off Royce Road, west of Route 53. Rather than tear down the building and dispose of its wood, Werner partnered with The Farmhouse to make sure that the wood pieces and other barn materials would live on for decades to come.

Payne said a portion of the barn will be donated by The Farmhouse to the Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission. The commission plans to display the barn wood in its museum at 444 E. Briarcliff Road, Bolingbrook.

While the original barn was built more than 120 years ago, it was remodeled through the years. An assessment of the barn from 2013 said the building was deteriorating due to water runoff from Royce Road, and gaps in the siding, which allowed exposure to insects, rodents and other pests. The Forest Preserve’s Board of Commissioners approved the barn’s removal in June.

Article by Cindy Cain

(Lead image by Chad Merda)

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