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The Tilsy Barn rises above its new foundation on the grounds of Konow’s Corn Maze on Cedar Rd in Homer Glen, but she just as easily could have ended up as scrap or worse, trash, except for Walter Konow.

In disrepair and deteriorating quickly, the Forest Preserve had to fence it off for the safety of visitors to the forest preserve and with no desire to put any more public funds into its repair, its options were limited. Last year, the Forest Preserve District of Will County decided not to preserve the barn as a Forest Preserve building and put it up for sale on Craig’s List.

The barn was built in 1870 and was one of a shrinking handful of barns in the country like it. In fact, as a banked, three-bay threshing barn with large double doors and constructed in the traditional post and beam, timber frame style with vertical board siding, it may have been unique. Preservationists, including board member Kathleen Konicki, had worked for years to save the barn.

“I can’t thank the Konow’s enough”, said Konicki. “The Forest Preserve was offering Tilsy to the highest bidder, with absolutely no restrictions. The Konow’s saved this historic and important barn from a shameful fate. By restoring it, they’ve honored a pioneer family who played an important role in our County’s history. The Tilsy family is very deserving of this honor. I can’t wait to see their beautiful barn landmarked!”

Walter Konow knows it well. His family lived on the former Tilsy farm for decades. “It was a working dairy farm”, said Konow. “My family was on the farm until the 1970s”. Konow told the Times Weekly that his sealed bid that won him the barn late last year, was for $1,000 and that his alone of the 3 bids the Forest Preserve received, planned to move and restore the barn. The other 2 bids proposed to buy the barn for its value as a source of valuable scrap wood.

Forest Preserve President Cory Singer was also pleased with the outcome. "Mr. Konow's family has farmed in the Homer Glen area for four generations. Although his commitment to farming led to his interest in taking the Tilsy barn for an adaptive re-use on his property, moving and rebuilding the barn to retain its historic relevancy is truly a labor of love."

Singer could not have been more right. Konow hopes to have the barn completed and accessible by the annual Fall pumpkin farm’s season, when thousands of visitors usually descend on his property. When asked if people would actually be able to enter the barn, Konow smiled and said “Of course”. Konow and his cousin Herman Konow, who was born on the Tilsy farm in 1943 and daily helped with the barn’s disassembly, then walked through the barn’s shell pointing at the future locations of hay lofts and other details that only they can envision, knowing the barn so well. Walter Konow then pauses and says, “I plan on leaving the barn and the land it sits on to Homer Township, so it will have a home forever”.

Konicki sums things up well. “By restoring historic Tilsy barn, the Konow’s, themselves, have stepped into the pages of history.” Konicki says, “On behalf of all my constituents, I humbly thank them for their public service.”

She’s Going To Be Beautiful!

The Times Weekly | Wednesday, 25 August 2010 22:00 | Author: Len Pace

Tilsy Barn resurrection begins because of local businessman.

Walter Konow (L) and his Cousin Herman Konow, who was born on the Tilsy farm.

The Tilsy Barn rises above its new foundation on the grounds of Konow’s Corn Maze on Cedar Rd in Homer Glen.

©2014 Konow’s Corn Maze.