Many of you have seen the little brick house in the City Park, and have wondered whose it is and why is it there. A popular photo spot, the Kohmueller Farmstead is where some of the first German settlers in Washington lived. Bill Schwab, the President of the Washington Historical Society, wrote a short story about the house in the latest WHS newsletter, and he agreed to share it with the Re-Discover Washington followers.
At the far western edge of the Bernie Hillermann Park sits a fine, well-built brick farmhouse constructed in 1879. It was the home of Johann Ludwig “Louis” and Anna Charlotte (Rueter) Kohmueller. The house consists of three large rooms on the first floor, each with its own outside door. A steep set of stairs gives access to the second story used for sleeping. A detached fireplace built for smoking faces the kitchen. The large open space between the house and the smokehouse is connected by a roof and hearth.
Louis and Charlotte had four children: Christine, Bertha, Erwin and Louis. Father Louis concentrated on the farming operations, raising cattle and hogs. Crops of corn and wheat were planted to the south of the farm house. A large barn was built nearby in the early 1900’s. Charlotte had a sizeable vegetable garden to the northwest of the house, near a flowing spring. A spring house kept food cold in warm weather.
In 1921 Louis died, leaving the farmstead to his wife and four children. The youngest child, Louis and his wife Erna Ronsick had two daughters, Norma Kohmueller Hausman and Ruth Kohmueller Buddemeyer. Every other day Norma and Ruth would journey from their home on Fifth Street to the farm to get milk. They spent many good times visiting their grandmother and other family members at the farmhouse.
In 1989 Washington Preservation Incorporated undertook the restoration of the farmhouse. Now owned by the city, the structure has benefitted from hundreds of volunteer and professional hours of labor. It reflects a typical 1879 brick Washington home of a German family from Osnabrǘck, Germany.
Recently Washington Preservation Incorporated dissolved and the board of directors of the Washington Historical Society voted to maintain this wonderful example of 19th century architecture and way of life. Soon work days will be scheduled to ready the grounds for winter. If you are interested in helping, please let Walt Larson know.
The Society is grateful to Washington Preservation Inc., for its foresight in preserving these buildings. The board trusts the Historical Society membership will continue WPI’s efforts. Along with residual funds from WPI, the Society hopes to provide the necessary resources to sustain this worthwhile project, including educational programs demonstrating for children and adults what life was like on an early Washington area farm.
(portions of this article are from a WPI brochure)