Five Mile House Barn 12/06/17

Eric Gray, with the Five Mile House foundation, talks about some of the bricks at the site of the barn southeast of Charleston on Wednesday.

KEVIN KILHOFFER, JOURNAL GAZETTE & TIMES-COURIER

CHARLESTON -- The barn's not ready to move but there are bricks for the floor once it does.

Work to relocate a barn to the Five Mile House is continuing with plans to try to raise money for the next phase of the project.

The effort began earlier this year and has a goal of using the barn to replicate the blacksmith shop once located at the site as well as for educational purposes and other uses.

"We're making good progress," said Tom Vance, president of the Five Mile House Foundation. "It's a very significant next step in the development of the site."

The foundation has worked for several years to renovate and improve the Five Mile House site, thought to be the location of the oldest structure in Coles County, and its grounds. The original structure at the site was built in 1840.

The house's name comes from its location at the intersection of Illinois Route 130 and Westfield Road, about five miles southeast of Charleston. Through much of its history, the location served as a stopping point for people traveling through the area.

The nearly 140-year-old barn is located a few miles east of the Five Mile House. Owner Dallas Nichols donated it to the foundation but funds are still needed for its renovation and relocation.

Vance said the project's total budget is about $175,000. The foundation already raised about $46,000 and is making a year-end appeal for another $50,000 in donations, he said.

Then, later next year, the foundation will try to raise an additional $50,000. Vance the Charleston Area Charitable Foundation will award a $25,000 grant to the project if the foundation raises $100,000 by May.

Donations can be made through a link on the foundation's website, www.fivemilehouse.org, or by mail to P.O. Box 114, Charleston, 61920.

Work so far has included obtaining bricks from a Cayuga, Ind., company for use in the forge and the floor in the blacksmith's shop.

Blacksmith and foundation member Eric Gray, plans to do demonstrations in the blacksmith's shop. He said the bricks for the shop's floor can handle hot objects dropped on them so "you don't take the chance of it exploding."

Also, Eastern Illinois University student volunteers also helped in clean up efforts at the barn's current location.

The company that will restore the barn, Trillium Dell Timberworks, located in Knoxville near Peoria, has done measurements of the barn and inventoried its timbers.

Vance said the company will use that information to design the building's new configuration as well as decide what lumber can be reused, what can be restored and what needs to be replaced.

Trillium Dell Timberworks will take the barn's lumber to its location for the restoration work then return it to the Five Mile House site, Vance also said.

He said the foundation already has enough money to pay for the barn's dismantling. It's possible that the project could be completed this coming summer or fall, he also said.

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