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Moooving on for progress

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Not all demolition projects in Woodbury are quite as big, noisy and visible as that of the old State Farm building at CityPlace. At least one is going down nail by nail.

Tucked away on a hill off of Hargis Parkway, the project doesn't draw the attention the way the CityPlace project did. Nor has it received nearly as much press coverage. But the barn on the old Schilling family homestead has, in fact, come down to make way for future development, all the same.

This wasn't just any barn, either. This was a barn that's been standing for just one year shy of a century, and it's on land that was homesteaded by the Schilling family in 1856. But its days on the hill have come to an end.

Property owner Wayne Schilling sold the barn for $125 in late 2014, as part of an auction held when he and his wife decided to move from his family land. The barn was dismantled by its new owner, Sheldon Volkert, who plans to use the support beams in the construction of another home.

These days, barns are somewhat of a rarity in Woodbury. But they speckled the landscape a century ago. While he doesn't know how the barn was built or who helped in its construction, Schilling knows the barn on his property replaced the farm's original barn, which burned to the ground in 1917, when his father was 5 years old.

"I remember my dad saying they told him to stay in the house until help came to put out that fire," Schilling said. "Who knows where it was coming from?"

Schilling's grandfather, John, was the third generation of the family to run the farm and is credited with building the barn. Schilling was the fifth generation to farm there, and the last. Nearing his retirement, Schilling decided to sell the family farm. Part of the land has already been developed into the St. Therese of Woodbury senior living complex.

Schilling is on the verge of selling the farm—a house, milk house, granary, corn crib, and three silos still stand on the property—to another developer, who will most likely build homes on the land.

But last Wednesday, Schilling watched as the barn came down a little at a time. Barns are sturdy buildings, with large, wooden pins used to hold the core beams in place, and thousands of large, heavy nails, so the work was slow and methodical.

Watching the work gave him time to reflect on his memories of the place he called home, and the years he spent farming. The barn once held 28 milk cows and some horses, and had a hay loft and feed room on the upper level. Schilling spent many years doing his chores in that barn.

"An awful lot of memories in there," he said. "A good portion of my life was spent milking cows and putting up the hay in there."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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