Follow this link for the Pure Nebraska Story about the Restoration

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The descendants of a German settler are beginning to restore a nearly 150-year-old home on a family farm along the Swan Creek.

Michael and Christina Witt settled the land in 1861 and built the fakwerkbau,” or “half-timbered house” in 1868. The house was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in November of 1979 and was noted as the only house of its type in Nebraska.

The Witts and their descendants have farmed the land for the last 154 years.

Kay Kottas, Witt’s great-great granddaughter owns the Witt’s End Homestead farm today and operates it with the help of her husband, Joe, and several employees.

“Many of Witt’s descendants have devoted years of work to the farm,” Kottas said. “The open house will be a celebration of that hard work, and a chance to look forward to seeing this precious history preserved.”

Nebraska carpenter Troy Schon, who specializes in restoring timber buildings, will discuss his plan to bring the house back to its original state. Kottas plans to unveil a crowd-funding website to help raise funds for the project.

The fakwerkbau style of architecture was popular in northern Germany in the 1800s. Trees were scarce, and buildings like this required fewer trees than the traditional log cabins. Witt also used adobe brick to fill the gaps. He used wooden pegs instead of nails.

With three bedrooms and a kitchen downstairs and one room upstairs, the family lived in the home until the 1920s. The house has been used for storage for decades.

Join us on the continuing journey to restore the legacy Michael and Christine Witt provided. Estimates of costs for each phase as well as volunteer opportunities are listed here, with also way to donate.

 

PROGRESS

BUILDING PROGRESS

Built 1868

Fall 1979  Fachwerkbau entered on the National Registry of Historic Places

Summer of 2005 :  Family recognizes the need to preserve and begins some protective work

Summer 2010:  Kay purchases farm with intent to preserve it

Summer 2013 Troy Schon helps to shore up the corner of the building and put siding on the roof and sides to protect it

Spring 2015  Spring rains bring 500 year flood which comes too close to building

Summer 2015 Family receives Heritage Award for keeping the farm in the family for 150 years

Website and Open House Launch fundraising campaign to raise funds to restore the building

Building Used for Storage for 100 years.

Building is Cleaned up for Open House

RESTORATION PHASES

Join us on the continuing journey to restore the legacy Michael and Christine Witt provided. Estimates of costs for each phase as well as volunteer opportunities are listed below, and a way to donate is on the right. Please contact us to volunteer for any phase of the project. Volunteer efforts will help to decrease the cost of the overall restoration. Our first phase has already begun with the creation of this website and a Facebook page. Our expert in timber frame construction, Troy Schon of Schon Construction, will help us locate some timber on the property to cut and cure. On Friday July 24, we begin the search for the location of the old foundation.

Current Phase – $27,600

Foundation and lumber preparations

  1. Build fundraising site and facebook page
  2. Find timber and cut to cure
  3. Find former foundation
  4. Prepare paperwork for Historical Society
  5. Clean out both levels of the house
  6. Build new foundation

Volunteer opportunities:  help with any of the above list and/or photography and videography

Social Media gurus – spread the word by sharing posts and updates.

Prepare frame for moving to new location – $39,700

  1. Replace north sill to stabilize northwest corner of house.
    • Lift and stabilize north and west wall.
    • Replace sill using half-lapped pegged scarf.
    • Replace 18” of 4th post, 3rd crosswall. Replace brustungsreigel(window sill) at this post.
    • Replace 36” of 2nd saumschwelle(wall sill).
    • Replace staves as needed.
  2. Remove wattle, daub, and brick infill where needed.
    • Save material for rebuilding.
  3. Lift and level house in preparation for moving.
    • House has settled 6” on south and north ends.
  4. Reinforce roof structure for moving.
    • Add temporary collar ties for rafters.
    • Add temporary purlin plate for moving house.
    • Add temporary support for porch overhang.
  5. Professional moving company to move house to new foundation.
    • Level new sill to match existing floor system.
    • Anchor sill beam to new foundation.

Volunteer opportunities:  help with any of the above list, but especially removing the wattle, daub and brick and/or photography and videography.

Support personnel – “gophers” and “feeders”

Frame repair – $19,400

  1. Perform necessary repairs for floor system and wall framing.
  2. Repair and rebuild purlin plate system on second floor.
  3. Repair 12 of 14 rafter peak joints.

Volunteer opportunities:  help with any of the above list and/or photography and videography;

Support personnel – “gophers” and “feeders”

Closing in – $68,885

  1. Add doors and windows to match original structure.
  2. Consult with electrical, HVAC, and plumbing trades before performing any wall repair work.
  3. Repair wattle, daub,and brick infill areas.
  4. Replace siding.
  5. Replace roofing.

Volunteer opportunities:  help with any of the above list and/or photography and videography;

Support personnel – “gophers” and “feeders”

Interior – not yet estimated

  1. Electrical, HVAC, plumbing work.
  2. Interior finish.
  3. Install fixtures.
  4. Occupancy permit.

Volunteer opportunities:  help with any of the above list and/or photography and videography;

Support personnel – “gophers” and “feeders”

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