One of the oldest houses in Hillsboro has been getting a facelift the past few weeks. The William F. and Ida G. Schaeffler House, built in 1909, has had extensive repair work done to the foundation and the porch.
While more work is ahead for this well-preserved Queen Anne style house over the rest of the summer, many improvements have already been in just a few short weeks.
The majority of the work happened in the southwest corner of the house where the foundation had settled over the years. As a result, the footings of the porch columns had dropped. One column in particular had sunk down 3 inches lower than the other ones.
“We had to figure out the best way to carefully raise that column to match the others without shifting the roof and everything else,” said Lane Dyck of Lane K. Dyck Construction Inc. “This complicated the process a little bit.”
They were able to pull it off by digging down deep into the ground around the columns, leveling out the foundation and installing rebar to provide additional support. Once the columns were set straight, Lane and his men brought concrete in to pour around the rebar to help secure it.
They also added support to the columns with steel shims in places where they would work. While it sounds like a simple process in theory, they faced several challenges.
“Because of how the property is set up and due to the historical factors, we can’t just back up a concrete truck, so we have to bring the concrete in one wheelbarrow load at a time,” Lane said.
Another challenge was rain. While Marion County has been extremely dry and desperately needed the rain, it did slow things down slightly. But they were able to keep to their schedule and stay on track in spite of the several storms.
After the front corner was complete, work moved to the back corner. The same process occurred there, although extra work was required to provide additional support to the porch directly above the stairs. Lane and his crew placed more lumber in strategic places to reinforce the porch.
The columns were not as uneven in the back as they were in the front so repairs moved faster. Some additional repair work for the framing and other damaged wood needed done, but all of it went smoothly. Much of the latticework in both the front and the back along the bottom of the porch had to be repaired, but all went quickly and no problems came up. The men were able to do quality work without complications.
“The goal is to get it all done well and have it not need more work for many more years,” Lane said. “The original foundation and work lasted for 100 years, which I would say is pretty good.”
All that remains to do on the exterior is some wood replacement on boards on the siding and then painting can begin. The painting will take a bit of time since there is a large amount of scraping and then the actual painting on this large, multilevel house.
The work already completed and the painting that remains will be paid for by a few generous organizations. The Hillsboro Museums received a grant of $34, 923 from the Heritage Trust Fund of the Kansas State Historical Society, and the city of Hillsboro is matching 20 percent of the cost.
The Schaeffler House, located at the corner of Grand and Jefferson, is available for tours. Visitors are welcome to tour Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays are 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays are from 9 a.m. to noon. To schedule a tour of this historic home, call 620-947-3775 to schedule an appointment.