Church: Granton – Zion Evangelical Luth. (Historic Parsonage - 2018)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Schoessow, Hasz, Helm
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 4/11/2018
Zion Evangelical Lutheran (Historic Parsonage renovated - 2018)
The parsonage at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Granton is one of about 70,000 Sears and Roebuck mail-order houses sold in North America during the early 1900s. The church’s pastor and parishioners are working doing ongoing restoration and remodeling projects on the 1914 house.
Pastor’s family and congregation adding TLC to historic parsonage
By Scott Schultz
Houses aren’t built like that anymore. The Rev. Dan and Courtney Schoessow say they’re believers in that notion after having worked on the restoration and remodeling of their Granton home.
The Schoessows have been working during the past several years to resort and remodel the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church’s parsonage, which is one of about 70,000 Sears and Roebuck mail-order houses built during the early 1900s.
Sears & Roebuck sold the houses between 1908 and 1940, offering about 370 designs.
“We’re blessed to live in this 1914 beauty,” Courtney said.
The house was ordered and built during the tenure of the Rev. Martin Hasz, who served the congregation from 1912-1925.
It cost $3,000, according to church records.
Bev. Helm, a longtime member of the congregation’s Parsonage Committee, said the house was ordered and built with Hasz’s relatively large family in mind.
The house was shipped in numbered pieces via train to Granton. The Hasz family moved into the parsonage after its 1914 completion.
“They don’t build buildings like this anymore,” said Helm, who over the years has spent many hours helping to maintain the parsonage.
Helm noted that a beam in the house’s attic still holds the “Sears and Roebuck” stamp, which marked the house’s origins.
The house’s uniqueness wasn’t lost on the Schoessows four years ago when Dan took a call to the church and its sister congregation, Christ Lutheran Church in Chili. Their arrival in Granton from their prior church in Texas was a homecoming of sorts, as Courtney’s parents were raised in the Chili and Granton areas and Dan was raised in Mequon.
Dan long has been a wood-working enthusiast, and the big old house seemed to be begging for a little extra tender loving care.
He said it was a good match for the couple and their three children to land in the house. Restoration work on the house also had been done in 2000 and 2003, but Dan saw some things he believed could make it even better.
Dan and Courtney – with the blessings and a good amount of backing and help from the congregation – quickly started to work on the house, beginning with its upstairs bedrooms. A full renovation of the downstairs bathroom and kitchen followed.
The Rev. Dan and Courtney Schoessow look through the service counter opening recently installed during ongoing restoration and remodeling work of the 1914 Sears and Roebuck house that serves as the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church’s parsonage in Granton. (Photos by Scott Schultz/The Clark County Press)
Walls were opened and restored. Dropped ceilings were removed to expose the original ceilings.
Carpeting was removed to expose the original hardwood flooring, which was sanded and refinished.
“There was a lot of staples in the flooring under the carpet,” Courtney said. “We all worked many hours pulling staples. I said, ‘the family that pulls flooring staples together stays together.’”
As with carpeting and layers of linoleum that covered the hardwood floors, and Dan said several layers of wall-plaster also covered some of the house’s original walls.
“We gained inches of space in the bathroom by just removing those layers,” he said.
Removing some of the wall materials exposed more about the house’s history – where old doorways and the like existed – according to Courtney.
The Schoessows have dug through Sears and Roebuck houses’ histories and checked into some owners’ groups out of simple interest and in hope of finding the Zion Lutheran house’s original floor plans. The plans haven’t been found, though.
“We think it might actually have been two plans that were combines to make the bigger house.,” Courtney said.
During the restoration and remodeling process, Dan and the congregation have worked to match the house’s original features.
The parsonage doubles as the pastor’s office, so features such as double-pocket doors separating rooms remain important to its history and its current function.
Courtney said parishioners past and present have shared many stories about the parsonage as they’ve delved into the house’s history.
One person asked her whether an old bench remains in the main foyer, just outside the door of the pastor’s office. That person told Courtney that people used to sit on the bench and wait in the foyer for their turns at going into the pastor’s office to confess their sins.
“He said people would tell the children to be quiet, so they might be able to hear what was being said in the office,” she said with a laugh.
The bench, indeed, remains as part of the parsonage’s décor.
Another recalled how, as children, they used to race up and down the stairways on either end of the house and stocking-slide across the upstairs’ hardwood floor hallway.
Courtney said the house is important to her family but that it’s even more important to the congregation’s history and future. She recalled their Texas parish, which built a new parsonage while the Schoessows were living there.
One Texas parishioner told Courtney the house was built with her and her young family in mind.
“It was built with love, but it really was built to love our family and future families that would live there,” she said. “In the same way, we’re working on this house, so it can love our family and the families that will live here in the future.”
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