Farm Horizons, October 2013

A barn worth saving

By Starrla Cray

The 1917 structure on Quay and Nancy Zander’s farm north of Waverly may look like a barn, but as their family can attest, it’s much more than that.

In its nearly 100 years of life, the barn has been everything from a basketball court, to a dance hall, to a boxing arena – not to mention the intended uses for dairy cows, horses, and grain/hay storage.

“We grew up in it,” said Karen Fadden, whose grandparents, Fred and Mary Hohag, were the barn’s original owners.

The descendents of Fred and Mary began working on the barn a few years ago, as a way preserve not only the structure, but also the past.

“We had talked about restoring it for many, many years,” said Steven Hohag, a grandson of Fred and Mary.

In those days, Steven’s parents, Warner “Steve” and Louise (Painschab) Hohag had been living on the farm place.

By 2010, the couple had moved to Buffalo due to health reasons, and the barn’s roof was in tough shape.

“It was leaking inside,” recalled Steven’s sister, Janet Helin. “It was either get a new roof, or give up on the barn.”

The family didn’t want to see the barn destroyed, so they invested in a new metal roof.

“That’s how it started,” Janet said.

When Warner and Louise passed away, the children allocated their parents’ leftover healthcare money toward additional renovations.

“It’s kind of like our legacy to them,” said daughter Marcie Tuma.

Marcie’s son, Quay Zander, is the current owner of the homestead. When preservation is complete, Quay and his wife, Nancy, are looking forward to having the barn available for their family’s farm animals.

Their daughter, Rebecca Zander, is a 2013 graduate of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School. Her brother, Jacob, is currently a senior.

A majestic masterpiece

“We love the majesty of the barn,” noted Karen, daughter of Stanley “Tim” and Anna (Painschab) Hohag. “We love the cathedral-like structure of its rafters, originally Pacific coast timbers intended to be grandstands for the Speedway.”

The Twin City Motor Speedway was constructed in the summer of 1915. During the first race that fall, the concrete surface was so rough that more than half the cars dropped out due to mechanical breaks. The following spring, frost heaves rendered some parts of the track unusable.

The track owners declared bankruptcy, and the materials were sold – Fred’s older brother, Gus Hohag, was the auction’s high bidder.

Fred Hohag had the grandstand timbers shipped to Waverly by rail, and began construction of his barn. When it was finished in September 1917, a celebratory barn dance took place with all the neighbors.

Memories in the making

A milk house was added to the barn in 1947. By then, the horse stalls had been replaced with additional calf pens.

Machinery also advanced through the years, and metal-wheeled tractors gradually became less common.

In 1946, Warner and Stanley purchased their first rubber-tire tractor, known to the family as “The Rooster.” For the tractor’s 50th birthday celebration, the family decorated it with a large grapevine wreath, and posed for a picture in front of the barn.

The grandchildren of Fred and Mary Hohag have many fond memories of the historic barn, and they’re looking forward to enjoying the newly-renovated structure for years to come.

So far, the barn’s red exterior has been brought back to its original look, and the windows have been replaced. An interior cleanup is next, with estimated completion in spring 2014.

A family connection

Want to know more about the family tree of Fred and Mary Hohag? This list may help:

• Children of Fred and Mary (Steg) Hohag: Edna (Hjelm), Charles, Vivian (Irwin), Warner “Steve,” and Stanley “Tim.”

• Children of Stanley “Tim” Hohag and Anna (Painschab) Hohag: Karen Fadden, Katherine Workman, and Dean Hohag.

• Children of Warner “Steve” Hohag and Louise (Painschab) Hohag: John (deceased), Janet (Helin), Marcie (Tuma), and Steven.

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