SIOUX CENTER—The Heritage Board has been covered in paint and dust but filled with excitement to get the Kuhl House set up and ready for visitors.
The two-story house will be open to the public for the first time during parts of the Sioux County Youth Fair coming July 16-22. Days and hours are yet to be determined.
Each Thursday and some Saturdays since late February 2018 board members have dedicated time to work at the Kuhl House, returning it to its 1920s shine.
The work started with “cleaning up.”
“We went through getting rid of extra things that were in the house, removing a weather-damaged chimney and uncovering the features of the true 1920 house,” said Heritage Board member Colleen Van Berkum said. “It was like an adventure uncovering some of these things.”
Part of that adventure was steaming off as much as 10 layers of wallpaper in some rooms, as well as finding remnants of existing wallpaper in storage that could be used to patch certain areas.
A window in the sitting room and a large picture window in the dining room were uncovered after having been boarded up.
Work included removing every window in the home to replace broken panes, sand and repaint the frames and do reglazing, which required putting in a hardened putty that creates a weather-tight seal on the exterior of the window between the wood and the glass.
The Kuhl House, previously owned by Harry Kuhl of Sioux Center and located on East First Street, was moved to Heritage Village four years ago.
“We really hadn’t made a firm and fast plan for the building and then we had the Klein House fire,” Van Berkum said of a fire in November 2015. “So we concentrated all our effort on getting that up and running, setting back the plans for this home.”
The Heritage Board set to work restoring the Klein House before beginning work on the Kuhl House.
Work inside the former Kuhl home involved rewiring it to upgrade the home’s electricity to run through a box instead of fuses. The kitchen, which had been remodeled in the 1960s, was also gutted and restored to a 1920s kitchen look.
The Kuhl House is mostly furnished with pieces gifted to the Heritage Board after the death of Wilbur Hulstein of Sioux Center in 2017.
The bathroom off the kitchen, which was an addition on the home, was also gutted and turned into a small storage area. The board’s dream still includes making the Kuhl House into a tea house or a place that can be used year round as it’s the only building at Heritage Village that’s climate controlled, having heating and air conditioning.
The home does not have plumbing, which would need to be completed before it could be used as a tea house or for public gatherings.
“To be able to open finally is a source of pride a little bit,” Van Berkum said. “We have spent so many hours here. The project has blossomed. It’s a beautiful old house that we’re able to showcase beautiful old furnishings. We feel it’s important to maintain the history of the area and this a great addition to Heritage Village.”
WHO ARE THE KUHLS?
A newspaper clipping inside the Kuhl House at Heritage Village provides a brief history of Harry and Gert Kuhl. It reads:
“Harry Kuhl was born in Sioux Center in 1919 and graduated from Sioux Center High School in 1937.
“His wife, Gert, was from Springfield, MN, and moved to Hull where she went to a country school and graduated from what is now Boyden-Hull High School.
“As a child, Harry Kuhl remembered looking forward to when the newspaper was delivered. The Sioux Center News was called the Niewsblad, and he always asked if the ‘Nose Bleed’ was here yet.
“Harry Kuhl went into the service in 1942-1946. When he came back, he began to farm. The Kuhls were married in 1948 and had no children. Gert was wheelchair bound most of her life as she was diagnosed with arthritis at 22 years old.
“On Jan. 8, 1958, Harry Kuhl’s parents’ farm was auctioned off. He tried to buy most of everything and was pretty successful. The Kuhls lived on East First Street, the land of which is owned by Dordt College.
“The Kuhl’s farm was a Century Farm. They kept busy with a few pet chickens. They both enjoyed living in Sioux Center. Gert died in 1995. Harry died in 2001.”