Efforts that were announced last January at Waterloo’s historic Peterstown House are finally nearing the completion, meaning the building now looks more like it originally did.
Throughout 2019, the Peterstown Heritage Society has been improving the structure by completing projects like replacing the siding and sidewalk.
“It’s about 90 percent (finished),” Peterstown Heritage Society President Andrew Juelfs said, noting shutter installation and touch-up painting remains.
“(The work) was necessary to preserve the building,” Juelfs added. “It was in pretty bad shape. We had a lot of really bad water damage in back, which was causing problems inside.”
Located at 275 N. Main Street, the Peterstown House was constructed in the mid-1830s, and added on to in the 1860s.
The saltbox building served as an inn and stagecoach stop along the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail, which is known as Illinois’ first road. It is the only intact inn still standing on the route.
The first owner of the building, Emory Peter Rogers, is the namesake of the house and surrounding neighborhood.
The structure was set to be demolished in the early 1970s, but a group of citizens bought and saved it, and the Peterstown House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 16, 1977.
“They saved this building because they had a vision,” Juelfs said.
That vision has continued progressing with this latest round of work, the main piece of which was replacing the building’s siding.
Originally, it had wood siding, but sometime in the 1990s that was ripped off and replaced with vinyl siding.
Now, it has James Hardie fiber cement siding, which looks and feels like natural wood and comes with a 50-year warranty.
Banner Construction, one of two certified James Hardie companies in the St. Louis area, worked for about a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas to replace the siding, including on the washhouse in the back.
The other major component of the renovations was replacing the original brick sidewalk with a new stamped concrete that looks like a herringbone brick pattern but will be easier to maintain.
Similarly, the step outside looks like stone but is made of concrete.
As part of that work, local contractor Brad Horn also used original stone scattered throughout the property to redo the back porch, which had sunk to the point it was about 13 inches lower than the step to get inside.
“This porch was in really bad shape,” Juelfs noted.
A final portion of the project involved repairing the old shed along Columbia Avenue by replacing and reclaiming wood, installing a window to allow visitors to view the society’s 1929 Model A Ford and fixing and painting the inside.
The society has been wanting to do all that work for about 10 years.
“It was a big bullet to bite because of the cost,” Juelfs explained. “The cost is outrageous, but it needed to be done if we wanted to preserve the building.”
The total cost for all this work was about $100,000. Some of that came from fundraisers, but most of it came from a bequeathment for improvement projects.
The society worked with First National Bank to finance the renovations, and the loan should be paid off in about four years. Individuals can still donate via cash or check.
There are also a few ongoing projects at Peterstown House.
One is a native landscaping project, which the master gardeners have been assisting with.
It involves planting prairie grasses, tobacco, cotton and wildflowers that would have been at the house in its heyday. There will also be signage and brochures so people can walk through the gardens and learn by themselves.
“It’s been going really well,” Juelfs said of that work.
Additionally, the society plans to take each room in the house one at a time and do some renovations when it can.
Custom Carver in Waterloo is also working on a new sign that should be ready when the house opens in the spring.
With all the upgrades, Juelfs said the society is looking to host more concerts and events and become more of an educational destination as the building nears its 200th anniversary.