WILSON, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s a barn on the move. A historic feature in the town of Wilson made its way to its final resting place.
It’s not a sight you’ll likely see too often. A more than 100-year-old barn moved to the city limits of Wilson with plans for a completely different future than what it’s been used for in the past.
The move has been months in the making, put on hold since February. But Tuesday, the community of Wilson lined the streets to see the barn’s mile-long journey into the town.
The barn, now owned, by Wilson’s Midland Railroad Hotel has a rich history. Initially built in 1906 by H. Frantz, it was constructed for George Levitt and first located behind Levitt Store in the city of Wilson.
According to the new owner, the barn was well-known across the state for its arrangement and prestigious horses and jacks kept inside.
After Levitt had finished use of the barn, it was then relocated to Princ farm, on the east side of Wilson, in 1946. There the structure housed livestock. Now present day, the barn is changing roles, switching from a livestock barn to a future community event center.
“Any building that you can save, is much more valuable than building a new one,” said Melinda Merrill, Midland Railroad Hotel and Barn owner.
Merrill plans to renovate both levels of the barn. The lower level, set to be complete by Memorial Day, will have a bar specializing in Kansas beers and distilleries, and will also have a space for an outside beer garden.
As for the second floor, set to be complete by Labor Day, Merrill hopes to have an artist residency program, as well as provide a space where movies will be played.
The center overall will host weddings, group meetings, musical events, and other community-driven events. “By bringing the barn back here it’s just one more way that people can come back to this area and actually enjoy their time,” said Merrill.
Old classmates of the barn’s former owner say it’s nice to see a piece of their childhood being saved.
“When we were maybe in the 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade or something, we’d play cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians and all that stuff in there,” said Frank Vopat, Wilson Community Member.
“We had a rope and we’d play Tarzan,” said Robert Vopat, Wilson Community Member.
The Vopat family says they were excited to watch the move. As for the movers, they say, this job was one to remember.
“We’ve done some very unique moves in about 10 states. But this barn has been special to us because the community has just absolutely poured themselves into us,” Leon Ball, Ball and Son Structure Movers.
Ball says he was proud to bring the barn to its new home.
Merrill says she hopes the move will not only boost the town’s economic development but also boost the community’s spirits.