Sangamon Reclaimed

Preserving History

Preserving History

Honoring our past. Preserving history for future generations.

For Many, Barns Are The Symbol Of The Midwest…

That is why we are passionate about them. These old structures represent a level of craftsmanship, hard work, and dedication that we admire in each piece of lumber that we salvage today.

Every joint in these structures were hand carved, often jointed with hammered wood pegs, and constructed by a large crew of men and women there to lend a helping hand. To us, these iconic American beauties from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century deserve to be preserved for future generations. Each structure that we deconstruct has a story, and we want to be able to share those with you.

Here are their stories…

c. 1893 - 2017 | 116 E. Main St. Colfax, Illinois

Colfax Hardware Store

Located just twenty-five miles east of the city of Bloomington, sits the small community of Colfax, Illinois. Incorporated in 1880 following the extension of the Kankakee branch of the Illinois Central Railroad the small community in Martin township immediately began to boom. The still rural nature of eastern McLean County, at this time combined with the access to the new rail line meant that farmers in the area flocked to Colfax. To meet the many needs of farmers who didn’t wish to make the journey to Bloomington a thriving business district quickly emerged.

By 1893, the 100 block of Colfax’s Main street could boast of containing multiple grocery and general stores, two drug stores, two banks as well as a hardware store located at 116 E. Main Street. Constructed in what was known as the “brick-front” style of commercial buildings, popular in the late 1800’s these typically included office space on or two stories above a high-ceilinged ground-floor business. This style usually boasted articulated brick or stone lintels and sills and brick corbelled cornices. The interior of the structure was held up with solid wood beams connected to 2X12 floor joists covered with tongue and groove hardwood floors.

It is difficult to determine precisely which firm was the first to inhabit this location, early newspaper advertisements frequently omitted street addresses. But it may well have been J.R. Williams & Sons Hardware & Tin ware (an 1899 Sanborn fire insurance map of Colfax show a small tin shop located in the rear of this hardware store). By the early 20th century it had become Wichmann’s Hardware which would serve the community of Colfax until 1981 when it became Lewis True Value Hardware. In 1996, it would be purchased once again, evolving into a Sentry Hardware. In 2017, due to deterioration the building was slated for demolition but not before Sangamon Reclaimed was able to preserve nearly 8,000 board ft of lumber for reuse today. Preserving for future generations a reminder of a thriving business that served the hardworking farmers of McLean & Livingston County, Illinois for more than a century.

Our goal at Sangamon Reclaimed is to honor our past and preserve it for future generations to come. The heirloom-quality pieces we built allow this structure to live on for years to come.

-Bring History Home -

c. 1853 - 2016 | 421 Jersey Street, Quincy, IL

Morgan-Wells Home

The Morgan-Wells House, also known as the Norwood-Morgan-Wells House, was added to the United States National Register of Historic Place on November 16, 1977. Edward Wells, owner of a cooperage firm, built this grand Italianate house facing Jersey Street onto an earlier structure in 1860. J.E. Norwood, a pork packer, built the original structure at the rear in 1853. Elements common to the Italianate style include a low-pitched hipped roof, paired brackets, window hoods, an arched entryway, and a full-width, single-story porch. A Quincy banker, Lorenzo Bull, who owned the home by 1901, gave it to the Cheerful Home Association and it became the first licensed children’s home in the state of Illinois in 1901. In 1933 the YWCA purchased the home for $10.

On October 17, 2016, the Quincy City Council approved a demolition permit for the Morgan-Wells House to allow the expansion of offices for the local newspaper. Before its demolition, 12,000 board feet of wood was salvage, giving new life to fifteen tons of reclaimed material. This structure will always be remembered as a timeless landmark that represents a large part of Quincy’s historical past.

Our goal at Sangamon Reclaimed is to honor our past and preserve it for future generations to come. The heirloom-quality pieces we built allow this structure to live on for years to come.

-Bring History Home -

c. 1850-2017 | 1637 Broadway, Quincy, IL

Quincy Firehouse/Bernzen Lumber Co.

The old Quincy Firehouse was built in 1850, and operated as a municipal until the late 1950’s. The structure over the engine bays was constructed with a variety of unique dimensional lumber, including 3” thick by 13” wide by 26 feet long beams.

Bernzen Lumber was Quincy’s oldest family-owned businesses, as it stood for 127 years until its closure in 2016. The business acquired the Quincy fire station in 1962 and later became its office and showroom.

Bernzen Lumber Co. was founded in 1889 as Middendorf Brothers Lumber Co. It initially operated at 10th and Broadway before moving to 17th and Spring in 1910.

According to Herald-Whig archives, the company was started by two brothers — Theodore A. Middendorf and William H. Middendorf — who were later joined by a third brother, Henry B. Middendorf. One of Henry’s daughters, Edith, married Walter J. Bernzen, who eventually took on a leadership role with the company.

Walter Bernzen was Bill Bernzen’s grandfather and Greg Bernzen’s great-grandfather. The company’s name was changed to Bernzen Lumber Co. in 1988.

Greg Bernzen, the fifth generation of his family to operate the company, sold the building in 2016. Our goal at Sangamon Reclaimed is to honor our past and preserve it for future generations to come. The heirloom-quality pieces we built allow this structure to live on for years to come.

-Bring History Home -

c. 1886-2016 | Kilbourne, IL

Blakeley Barn

On land located in Kilbourne, IL, the Blakeley barn stood at 40 feet tall with beautiful dark red and grey pine wood siding on the exterior and pine beams held together by pegs in the interior. The occupation of Mr. Blakeley in 1886 was to farm crops and raise livestock. The barn was used to house a variety of livestock including sheep and cattle on the main level and hay in the upper level. The current landowner is a 4th generation owner of the Blakeley grounds. He not only remembers helping out with the livestock as a child (and as an adult has also used the barn to house his own livestock), but has many fond memories of jumping out of the hayloft with his cousins.

Our goal at Sangamon Reclaimed is to honor our past and preserve it for future generations to come. The heirloom-quality pieces we built allow this structure to live on for years to come.

-Bring History Home -

c. 1876 - 2016 | Waverly, IL (Morgan County)

Rohrer Chapel

Built on a hill, in rural Morgan County, IL, the Rohrer Chapel was a place where members of the local community would gather and worship. The Rohrer Chapel was lined with a unique diagonal design and had beautiful arched windows with stained glass. It has been told that campfire lanterns would hang from the trees surrounding the chapel in the evening.

From historical texts, we know that the Rohrer family with instrumental in the fabrication of Rohrer Chapel. In October 1827, Jonathan and Mary (Traughber) Rohrer moved from Logan County, KY to Illinois and settled on 240 acres of government land, which cost $1.25 per acre. Albert Rohrer, oldest son of Jonathan and Mary, was born in March of 1830. Albert donated the land which Rohrer Chapel was located on and contributed toward its construction. Wilburn G. Rohrer, one of the builders of Rohrer Chapel, was born in April 1835. Wilburn, who served in the Civil War, joined in August 14, 1862, rank PVT Company G Unit 101 IL US Infantry. Wilburn charged $100 for the construction of this beautiful building and when he finished early, he was paid $125. Wilburn’s obituary stated, “during his declining years there was much that Mr. Rohrer loved to talk about, that which lay closest to his heart being his church.”

Our goal at Sangamon Reclaimed is to honor our past and preserve it for future generations to come. The heirloom-quality pieces we built allow this structure to live on for years to come.

-Bring History Home -

c. 1865 - 2016 | Tallula, IL (Menard County)

Rock Creek Barn

The Rock Creek barn was built in 1865 of locally sourced hardwood timbers, due to a lack of railroad accessibility during this period. The material consisted of white oak, red oak, walnut, hard maple, and hickory native to the Sangamon River Valley. Around 1844, the land was purchased by James Stephenson (born in 1782 in South Carolina), and around 1854, the land was taken over by Mr. Stephenson’s daughter, Elvira (Stephenson), and her husband, Aaron Runyon Houghton.

This barn was of particular interest due to its construction for multiple uses. The barn was a bank barn (meaning built into the side of a hill), with basement access from both sides for livestock to seek shelter. Also in the basement was a limestone foundation dating back to pre-civil war. In addition to shelter the livestock also were fed in the basement. Their hay and grain came from wood chutes built into the structure above. The first floor was accessible from the north and south ends of the structure via hillside and was originally designed for wagons to be pulled through the structure, where they would dump their grain and feed it into the grain bins located on the first floor and then shoved down into the troughs below. On the third floor was the grain elevator and the hayloft with chutes designed to drop square bales from the second floor to the basement into special designed feeders. This construction coupled with the silo next to it allowed the farmers to run a majority of their livestock operation from a single barn. The exterior cladding on the barn was done in 1×5” tongue and groove siding with an intricate groove down the center, which showed the time, craftsmanship and attention to detail the builders put forth.

When the Rock Creek Barn was dismantled in 2016, it was still in very good condition but the Johnson family hated to see it deteriorate any further as there was no livestock on the property.

Our goal at Sangamon Reclaimed is to honor our past and preserve it for future generations to come. The heirloom-quality pieces we built allow this structure to live on for years to come.

-Bring History Home -

c. 1873-2015 | Rochester, IL

Herndon Barn

The Herndon Barn was constructed in 1873 and made completely of rough-sawn pine. It was built by Archer Herndon, whose brother William Herndon, was Abraham Lincoln’s law partner. This barn remained in the Herndon family until it was deconstructed in 2015, under ownership of Archer Herndon’s great-great granddaughter.

William Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner, was elected mayor of Springfield, IL in 1854. Lincoln was quoted in saying that Herndon “was my man always above all other men on the globe.” William and Archer’s father, also named Archer, was involved in politics as state senator, and was one of the men instrumental in having the state capital moved to Springfield. As you can see, this family was well routed in the history of Springfield and the connection to the Lincoln family.

This barn, not only held historical significance to the Herndon family, but was instrumental in further launching our business. A majority of all of our beam stock used for table legs, mantels, and other projects were reclaimed from this barn and now live on in the pieces created.

Our goal at Sangamon Reclaimed is to honor our past and preserve it for future generations to come. The heirloom-quality pieces we built allow this structure to live on for years to come.

-Bring History Home -

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