Pieces of the Past
LAKE GENEVA, Wis. – Like most farmers in the 1960s, Harold Gallagher picked plenty of rocks from his farm fields every spring to prepare for planting. Over the decades, as the pile of stones steadily grew, he likely never saw them for more than a nuisance – an obstacle to overcome in order to do what he loved and provide for his family: farm.
Even less likely? The notion that this discarded fieldstone would literally become the focal point of his grandson’s future home.
Ever since Harold and his wife Juanita purchased the rich, fertile farmland, his dream – and his son’s dream after him – had been to build a house for the family to call home. But first came clearing and tilling acres for their inaugural planting season. After that, one growing season led to another and constructing the family home never moved from the backburner.
Eric’s grandpa Harold passed away young – in his 50s – due to illness. After his death, George, Eric’s dad, did the farming but because he was still attending school, it became too hard. They started renting the farm acreage out so Grandma Juanita could provide for her family and, ultimately, keep the land in the family. Grandma promised Harold she would never sell the farm, and she held her promise to him.
In the summer of 2017, Eric and his wife Stacy took advantage of an opportunity to create their own little slice of paradise on a tract of the family property. Juanita was happy and at peace with the fact that the young couple built their dream and would “never sell the land forever” also.
Located in the lush and picturesque Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, area – about a mile north of the Illinois border – the acreage is close enough to town for school and work (Eric works for the city of Delavan, Wisconsin, and Stacy for a dentist), but remote enough to offer peaceful nights, starry skies and a tranquil environment where they raise their young daughter, Gracie.
From family collectibles to repurposed glass jar lamps to the fieldstone fireplace, the home has plenty of touches from the past.
“We’re quite sentimental,” Stacy explained. “Throughout the entire project, guarding the essence of family history was our priority.”
The 20-something couple did their research and knew what they were looking for in a home and a builder – no cookie-cutter gingerbread cottage for the Gallaghers. They found a contractor willing to listen and set about designing their modest but unique home.
Surprisingly, finding financing for the build was one of the most challenging aspects of the process. “We battled with logistics with the loan,” Stacy said. “Some lenders don’t want to deal with large acreage. It can get quite complex if you’re not well-versed.
“Plus, we didn’t fit the mold; we were young, but we had our own ideas,” she continued. “We knew we wanted expertise, service and peace of mind”
Once they met Compeer Financial Loan Officer Ty Rohloff, however, they never looked back.
“Talking to Ty – that sealed our deal,” Eric said. “He took us seriously, never judged us for our age, inexperience or goals. His knowledge is incredible. He helped us make sense out of all the logistics and details.”
The end result of all this planning and effort? A stunning barn-red-sided home with enough comfort and character to last generations of Gallaghers. Incorporating unique qualities into the living space came naturally to Eric and Stacy.
“This property was part of my grandparents’ farm,” Eric noted. “I have so many memories of camping and hunting with my dad out here. I wanted to recognize and remember that.”
On sunny, summer afternoons, Eric and Stacy would pack up Gracie and their labs, Ruger and Remi, for a family outing to Harold’s old rock pile, where they gathered the raw materials for the home’s landscaping and fireplace.
According to Stacy, “All the fieldstone around our house and in our fireplace are from the property that was farmed in the ’60s. Eric hand-cut all the stone and did the masonry himself.”
Their country dream didn’t stop with the house. Since moving in, the Gallaghers obtained a home equity line of credit from Compeer to build a shed and have plans for adding chickens and maybe some other livestock into the mix.
“Even though my grandpa is gone and my dad is retired from farming, I still have connections to the land,” Eric said. “My good friend farms the land, so I get to hop in the combine or tractor to pick and haul corn. My 6-year-old is by my side every minute of it. She loves it.”
For those who love the land, this is what life in the country is all about – setting those family memories in stone.