The Origins of der Bauernhof Farms

Both of us attended Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois. One of the classes that Janetta took for general educations was a class on early American crafts. One of the crafts she learned was spinning fiber, and she was always intrigued by it and wanted to have a farm where she could have sheep and spin.

Stan is the grandson of Alsatian immigrants (the Bauer side) and bauer, in German, means farmer or peasant. He had wanted to have a small farm or farm house that he could name der bauernhof, which translates to “the farmer’s house.”

When we transferred back to central Illinois from Texas in 1992 and purchased the Brown house and acreage, it was our opportunity to realize Janetta’s dream of having fiber animals as a source for spinning. We had sheep for a couple of years, but their fiber was course and too short for spinning. An acquaintance of ours in the Herb Guild had alpacas and suggested we try them.

We purchased our first two alpacas in the Fall of 2002 to see how we liked them and fell in love with the gentle animals with soft fiber and staple length that was a joy to spin.

The following Summer of 2003 and we purchased our first breeding animals, two pregnant females with crias (baby alpacas) and der Bauernhof Farms was born.


The Edward Brown House

Built approximately 1924

EdwardBrown1Duplicate floor plan of the Cunningham House, 1325 E. Washington, Bloomington, a house known to be designed by Arthur Pillsbury, a noted Bloomington architect.

After Mr. Brown’s death, Mrs. Brown married Abe Perry, the son-in-law of G.J. Mecherle, founder of State Farm Insurance Companies.  (Mr. Mecherle’s first wife was Mae Perry).

Abe Perry worked at State Farm, and the light fixtures on the front porch columns are from the original downtown State Farm building, built in 1929.  In 1942 a new building was added to the north of the original State Farm home office building, and these light fixtures were replaced with the neon lights currently in the alcoves.

The story goes that the Perry’s really enjoyed their parties, and the home was for years completely surrounded by a large privet hedge for privacy, and the grounds included a swimming pool.

EdwardBrown2Friend and frequent visitor included cartoonist Frank Willard, creator of the Moon Mullins comic strip.  Our second floor library office was originally the nursery, and the west wall is illustrated with a jungle scene allegedly painted by Mr. Willard.  It is now safely preserved behind the bookcase desk.

The house was occupied by Mrs. Brown/Perry until her death.  Prior to the executor being able to take occupancy of the house, all of the original light fixtures were removed.  Also, Mrs. Brown/Perry was an antique dealer in her later years, and apparently traded the original oak fireplace mantel for a more elaborate white marble mantel.

The home was purchase in 1987 by a Dr. and Mrs. Swearingen, who did major remodeling.  All of the woodwork in the house had been painted and all of the oak woodwork on the first floor was stripped and refinished.  The hot water radiators were removed and two forced air furnaces were installed; one for the downstairs and one for the second and third floor.  Those furnaces were replaced in 2011 with two geothermal units.

EdwardBrown3The third floor attic was finished, the kitchen was remodeled and a bathroom was added on the second floor.

We purchased the home in 1992 from the Swearingen’s and have since remodeled the back porch off of the kitchen, made the second floor nursery into a library office, and recently remodeled the second floor bathroom.  All of the doors on the second floor were painted over original hand grained wood.  We have had them stripped and refinished them, but unfortunately could not save the oak hand graining.  The windows on the second floor have also been stripped and have been restored as they were originally installed, with painted trim and stained window casings.  We are also replacing the weights in the double hung windows as they were originally meant to operate.

The leaded glass window on the stair landing is not original to the house.  It was made by a personal friend of ours in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, using zinc instead of lead for the partitions between the glass.  It is done in a style to represent violets that thrive throughout our yard in the spring.