VAN BUREN (KFSM)-- The Wilhauf House is believed to be the second oldest home in Van Buren, and it’s getting restored thanks to a $250,000 grant given to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith for the project.
Tom Wing, a history professor at UAFS, and is also the director of the Drennen Scott Historic Site. He was a part of the restoration of the Drennen Scott House and is now making the plans for the Wilhauf House.
“That house was built in the 1830s, and it was owned by a man by the name of Leonard Wilhauf who was a German immigrant,” Wing said. “He ran a bakery over a few blocks away on Main Street back in the 1830s, but what’s really interesting is he was a volunteer solider for the United States.”
UAFS bought and restored the Drennen Scott House, but the Wilhauf House was donated, so all of the $250,000 from the grant will go toward restoring it.
“We’re going to restore the oldest part of this house, and probably use that for exhibits and maybe some other purposes that fit our interpretation of the early history of Van Buren,” Wing said. The backside of the house is actually a modern addition, and we’re going to move our research archaeologists in there.”
Wing said there is a lot of work to be done, but they are going to protect the historical integrity of the home.
“We’re going to preserve as much of the original material of this house as possible, and then replace what we can’t preserve and bring it back to its 1830s, 1840s appearance,” Wing said.
Wing said with this grant and one they received last year, they have a little over half a million dollar, and that’s only a third of what they’ll need to finish.
He said they plan to apply for another grant next year for the rest of the money they will need to complete the project.