Old barn has new home and bright future

AFTER WAITING PATIENTLY FOR more than half a dozen years, a historic old barn finally moved to its new location last week.

The historic structure – originally built as a blacksmith shop on North Street between Mill and Main in the 1860s – has sat behind the Plymouth Historical Society museum since 2011 waiting for its final placement.

The century-and-a-half-old building was donated by the Gentine Foundation to the historical society after it was scheduled to be removed as part of an expansion of the Plymouth Arts Center.

Built as a blacksmith shop less than 20 years after Plymouth was settled, the structure over the years also served as a machine shop, carriage house and even as a temporary school house. The 21 by 30 foot building originally had living quarters on the upper level. The lumber to build it was obtained from local forests and sawn at the saw mill located at the dam site on the Mullet River at the end of Mill Street.

It was moved to the lot behind the historical society’s museum at 420 E. Mill St. in 2011, where it sat on boards while the society moved forward with their ultimate plans for the building.

With a concrete slab in place, it was finally moved across the lot to its final location, ready for renovation and updating.

The society plans to add a garage area and overhang to the front of the building while rebuilding and refurbishing the interior and exterior of the original building.

The goal is to expand museum displays into the first floor of the building, while using the upper floor for additional storage space.

When completed, it will make a fine addition to the already excellent historic museum.

The museum has offered a fascinating and educational glimpse into much of the city’s past for many years, with interesting displays and dedicated volunteer docents sharing it all with visitors.

That includes the Plank Road display in the museum basement. The exhibit allows guests to walk along a simulation of a section of the old plank road connecting Sheboygan and Fond du Lac that ran through Plymouth in the mid-19th century.

On either side of the trail, a number of old-time shops and offices are re-created, including a millinery (hat shop), pharmacy, general store, optometrist’s office, toy shop, furniture shop, barber shop and even items from the original St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

It all adds up to a fascinating walk into the city’s past, with lots of nuggets of history and information entertainingly presented.

The Plymouth Historical Society – at 27 years old, much younger than the city it serves and preserves – has done a remarkable job over the years in enhancing and enriching the city, whether through its many annual events, videos and books on the city’s history, the museum and special projects like the restoration of the historic Huson Water Tower on Collins Street.

The restoration and renovation of the ‘new’ old barn behind the museum should add another shining chapter to that story.


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