Jean Letherer (left) from the his­torical society and Bill & Elsie Hayward receiving their award. Col­legian | Julia Mullins

Nearly 30 people gathered in the his­toric Will Car­leton Poor­house Oct. 22 to cel­e­brate the restoration and preser­vation of homes and barns in the sur­rounding area.

Mary Foulke, who has been a board member of the Hillsdale County His­torical Society for about 15 years, is respon­sible for finding the buildings and pre­sented each of the awards.

“I love when it all comes together tonight and you hear all of the stories, it makes me wish I could have seen these things in person,” Foulke said.

Waldron Grain and Fuel received the first award of the night. Joel Rufe­nacht said the original building was a depot and stop on the railroad. Rufe­nacht said the depot began a pas­senger train service around 1887.

“The original depot, as far as I know, was built sometime between 1887 and 1910, and we believe the original one burnt down in July of 1910, so this one should date sometime after July 1910.”

Rufe­nacht said his grand­father pur­chased the building sometime around 1950 or 1951; he does not have the deed stating the exact year. In addition to the building, Rufe­nacht said his family pur­chased the whole right-of-way for one mile out of bank­ruptcy.

Now, the building is used to store seed, but Rufe­nacht said there was a time when the biggest business was the coaling yard. Rufe­nacht said the coaling yard was on both sides of the grain ele­vator.

“I remember when I was younger, we would get in loads of coal right up until about 1975, but nothing like what they used to,” Rufe­nacht said. “I mean they used to get in 50 or 60 cars a year and it was a lot of effort to unload them by hand.”

The Wal­worth Home, owned by Tom Wal­worth in Hillsdale, also received an award. Wal­worth said the home was orig­i­nally built in 1858, and he pur­chased it in 1985 for his family. Wal­worth said he began restoration in 1990. However, a decade later Wal­worth said the the old boiler failed and he had to restart the restoration process.

“I came home from Christmas shopping, and the whole house looked like a giant green­house,” Wal­worth said. “There was wall­paper peeling off, water running out of the chan­de­liers, so that neces­si­tated the entire house to be ren­o­vated at once, and that was fin­ished about 2005.”  

Two years later, Wal­worth said he had to overcome another obstacle in the restoration process.

“We had lightning strike the house in 2006, and the house caught on fire,” Wal­worth said. “For­tu­nately, it didn’t do a lot of damage, just burned a hole through the roof, and the fire department was able to get it under control with some assis­tance from the local cit­izens.”

After the lightning strike, Wal­worth said he redid and repainted all of the ceilings.

“It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of work, but like any old house, it never really ends,” Wal­worth said.

In addition to cel­e­brating their 58th wedding anniversary, Bill and Elsie Hayward received an award for their cen­tennial Hayward Farm. Bill Hayward said the farm has been in con­stant work from the 1870s to the present day. Although the farm has had beef cattle and hogs in the past, Bill Hayward said it is cur­rently a grain farm.

Bill Hayward orig­i­nally planned to pass down the farm to his son. Unfor­tu­nately, his son died when he was just 17 years old in a farming accident. Now, Bill Hayward plans on passing down the farm to his daughter. The Hay­wards welcome many young people from all over the world to help with the work on their farm.

“We’ve had mul­tiple young people work for us over the years, and there not just our employees, they’re our family,” Elsie Hayward said.

One summer, the Hay­wards hosted a young woman from Brazil.

“The woman from Brazil got married here, three or four years ago, and invited us to the wedding,” Bill Hayward said. “I ended up escorting her down the aisle as her father.”

In addition to the these awards, the Grosvenor House Museum in Jonesville received an award last year, but was not able to attend to the cer­emony. Members of the Grosvenor House Museum Asso­ci­ation attended this year’s cer­emony to talk about the history of the Grosvenor House Museum.

Ann Johnson, a member of the Grosvenor House Museum said Ebe­neezer Oliver Grover hired Elijah E. Myers to built the five bedroom mansion for him and his wife, Sally Ann, between 1872 and 1874.

“The house is an Ital­ianette irregular, meaning it does not have a cupola on top,” Johnson said. “It was years ahead of its time with central heating, indoor plumbing and flushed toilets. Carbide gas pro­vided light in the wall lamps and chan­de­liers.”

In addition to these unique fea­tures, Johnson said the house has 12 foot ceilings and eight hand-carved, marble fire­places. Johnson said the house cost $37,500 to build and the workers were paid 8 cents an hour and worked 12 hour days.

“The home was in the Grosvenor family until the 1850s and it went through a series of owners, and was used as an apartment house, and then again as a private res­i­dence,” Johnson said.

The house became a museum in 1976 and now offers private tours, special events, and open houses throughout the year.

Another his­torical home, the Harper House in Som­erset, earned Craig and Deborah Bos an award. Although the Bos could not attend the award cer­emony, Foulke pro­vided infor­mation about the house.

According to Foulke, the Harper House was built in 1883 and then sold to Bos in 2009. Foulke said the house sat empty for 20 years prior to 2009. While all of the original woodwork was still intact, Foulke said the Bos had to rewire the elec­trical system and redo the plumbing.

“Being a teacher, I think history gets pushed to the side, and it’s just so important to realize where you come from to where you’re going,” Foulke said.