SIDNEY — The general store at Heritage Village lodges the post office and, just like in days of old, is a place where children flock to buy their penny candy and homemade pickles from a crock.
The store, located near Montcalm Community College, has a menagerie of historical artifacts on display and is one of 26 restored buildings in the quaint Heritage Village that aims to preserve the past.
The general store has been showing its age and recently underwent a major renovation, including new siding, doors and windows.
“The store is 104 years old and the project was way overdue,” said Marge Waldron, a Heritage Village Committee volunteer, “It was getting to the point you could almost put your hand through some of the walls, but we just haven’t had the money to do it. We have tried to do renovations to the village as money comes in, but this one just couldn’t wait any longer.”
Tom Learmont, another Heritage Village Committee volunteer whose focus is the maintenance of the historical buildings, oversaw the project.
“It was in rough shape and needed some extensive repairs,” Learmont said.
He explained the outer walls were repaired using a plywood material and then covered with a vinyl Restoration Smooth siding. Much of the wood flooring near the front of the building had also rotted out and was replaced.
“The restoration siding has a vinyl look and is more resilient than painted wood, but it is made to look like older, painted walls. It maintains the look of the older buildings,” said Learmont.
A.E. Brown Construction of Carson City did the siding, sending out a three-man crew nearly every day for three weeks, according to Learmont. Corner and trim work was done using a maintenance-free material called Restoration Millwork.
“It was fun for them, too, I think, because it was a product they don’t ordinarily work with,” Learmont said. “It was an interesting project because you didn’t know for sure what you would run into. Sometimes we had to change plans as we were going along, depending on what we found as we went along.”
Additional repairs included replacing all doors and windows and much of the framework around them.
“While it is a whole new look, we tried to stay with the look of that time period,” said Waldron.
Heritage Village Committee President Jean Brundage often runs the store during the annual Heritage Village Festival, which takes place every August.
“I started working in here when we got the building 25 years ago. My parents had run a store and my husband’s parents had run a store and I’ve just always worked here,” Brundage said. “This (renovating) is absolutely fantastic.”
The cost of the project was more than $25,000, according to Waldron.
“We have been saving up for over three years to do this, but came up short. We decided since we had at least two-thirds of the cost, we should go ahead and do it,” Learmont said.
The remaining $8,000 was borrowed on a bank loan and Heritage Village Committee members are now working to pay that off.
The group had been having the building painted every four or five years, at a cost of $4,000 to $5,000. The siding will eliminate that need. Learmont said roof repairs for the store will be needed in another year or two.
“We didn’t have the money, but it had to be done or we would have lost the whole building,” Learmont said. “We now hope to raise enough money to pay it off. We had to do it this way and not go another winter with it in the shape it was in. We want to pay this off first, but the roof is also bad. If it would start leaking, we could lose the building in a hurry.”
“It is the result of generous donations that got us this far,” said Brundage, explaining funds are raised through memberships, memorials, donations and fundraising.
The Heritage Village Committee has two fundraisers each year. The next one is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Sheridan VFW Hall. The all-you-can-eat meal will include beef stew, coleslaw, cornbread, dessert and beverages. Tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for children age 5 to 10 and free to children 4 and younger.
“We are hoping for a good turnout to help cover some of these costs. We will also have a basket available for anyone willing to donate and help us pay off the loan,” said Waldron.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.