CHARLESTON -- Within the next few days, a historic barn should be gone from its old home to be readied for its new one.

Work began Wednesday to dismantle the nearly 140-year-old barn that will be moved to the Five Mile House grounds. After about an hour, much of the roof and sides were off and ready to be moved for restoration work.

When it's moved to its new home, perhaps later this year or early next year, it's expected to be a spruced-up but largely historically accurate version of what it is now.

"We'll be able to reuse a lot of the historic fabric," said Rick Collins, owner of Trillium Dell Timberworks, the company doing the restoration work.

The barn was built in 1880 and is located along Westfield Road in southeastern Coles County, about three miles east of the Five Mile House.

Former owner Dallas Nichols donated the barn to the Five Mile House Foundation last year. The foundation oversees the site and has been working for several years to make improvements and promote public events there.

The house's name comes from its location about five miles southeast of Charleston. Through much of its history, dating to 1840, the location served as a stopping point for people traveling through the area.

An ongoing fundraising effort is helping the foundation reach its goal of relocating the barn so it can house a blacksmith shop, which was an original feature of the site, plus serve as a visitors center and more.

On Wednesday, foundation President Tom Vance said the start of the barn's dismantling was a welcome sight.

"It feels like we're making some big progress," he said.

Vance said the cost of the entire project is estimated at $175,000. But the $130,000 the foundation has so far is "more than enough" to pay Trillium Dell Timberworks for its work, he said.

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Collins said he expects it to take no more than five days to dismantle the barn. The materials will then be taken to the company's plant in Knoxville, near Peoria, where the lumber will be restored or replaced, he said.

The restoration work there should take a couple of weeks, Collins also said.

When the materials will be taken to the Five Mile House site will largely depend on when the next stage of the work can take place, he said. It's not best to have the materials sitting at the site and be exposed to possible wear or damage, he explained.

Vance said the foundation's upcoming fundraising efforts will be for money for a concrete foundation for the barn, which has to be in place before the building can be placed there.

Money's also needed for new siding and roof for the barn and the foundation has fundraisers planned for later this year, Vance added.

The hope at one point was to have the barn ready in its new location by this fall but now it appears the work might not be done until spring, he said.

Collins, who's been running his restoration business for 23 years, called the barn "a bizarre building." That's because, he said, its trusses aren't a type that was typically used for barns of its era.

Still, Collins continued, dismantling the barn shouldn't be difficult, as it will take place section by section, somewhat of a barn raising in reverse.

"The way it went up is the same way it goes down," he said.

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Contact Dave Fopay at 217-238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave.


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