by Dennis Dalman
While repairing part of his old barn, a stunned Dave Traut at first couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted a hammer in the wall.
Instantly, he knew just which hammer it was – the one his father, Cyril, had accused the children of losing 47 years ago. Traut was 10 years old at the time, helping his father do repairs on the old barn.
“My first thought when I found that hammer,” said Dave, chuckling, “is that I was disappointed I couldn’t tell my father, ‘Hey, dad, guess what I found?’”
The hammer is a red, fiberglass-handled hammer, which at that time was just the cat’s meow of hammers. Cyril had received it as a gift from his wife, and he was so happy to have it and so disappointed when it went missing.
Traut found the hammer when he was repairing some boards on the east side of the 90-year-old barn. It was part of a very labor-intensive project that involved thousands of hours of work by Traut, his family, relatives and friends. Their goal was to restore and repurpose the old barn, which was built in 1924 by Traut’s grandfather, Ed Traut.
Dave and his wife, Judy, and their children have lived for many years across from the old barn, on CR 19 in west Sartell. It was one of their four children, Sarah, who convinced her father to hasten the barn restoration.
“I’d like to have my wedding reception in that barn,” she said to her father about a year ago.
“Well, that’s a great idea,” he said, “but . . . “
That “but” implied all the work it would take to get the barn ready for the Sept. 20, 2014 wedding. But Traut got busy in his spare time and on weekends, although he had to take a long break to recover from rotor-cuff surgery on his right arm.
One of the hardest tasks was to jack-hammer all the very thick concrete slabs on the floor of the old dairy barn. Next came many restoration projects on the first floor and in the haymow area on the second floor. At times, everyone, including Dave, wondered if it could ever possibly be done on time.
“It was like taking a trip,” he said. “You’d better enjoy the journey because you don’t know if you’ll reach your destination or what you’ll find there.”
But, as luck and hard work would have it, it was spruced up and decorated for the reception night Sept. 20 when Sarah married Lex Anderson in the family yard across the road. About 200 people attended the wedding reception with a catered dinner and dancing in the haymow area upstairs. A good time was had by one and all.
The Andersons live in Big Lake. Lex is a lineman for Xcel Energy, and Sarah is an employee of Nix Café in that city. She hopes soon to get a job as an elementary teacher.
The Trauts’ other children are Jeanne Baker, an elementary teacher who lives in Ham Lake; Brian, a well driller for his father’s company (Traut Wells in Waite Park); and Laura, who just graduated from the University of Minnesota, Rochester; and plans to be a dermatologist.
Ed and Mary Traut lived in Sartell all of their lives in an area that was entirely agricultural in the early years of the century.
They built their dairy barn in 1924. Ed was a truck driver, as well as a farmer, and he also sold work horses at his farm.
The old barn is a treasure trove of remarkable stories for those who grew up in its vicinity. For example, John “Jack” Pierskalla lives not too far away to the north of the barn. His father, Isadore, also lived in that area. Isadore and Mary, Dave Traut’s grandmother (Ed’s wife), were brother and sister.
When Ed was building the barn in 1924, he invited his brother-in-law Isadore to help with the project. While working there for many days, Isadore took a liking to a woman named Cornelius, who was the Trauts’ housekeeper. The “liking” soon had him head over heels in love, and he married Cornelia.
Dave said many people walk or jog by on CR 19 and some will stop to talk when they see him or other Traut family members on the property by the old barn. They share stories about how the barn had been part of their lives, too, or people they know who tell wonderful stories about the old barn and the people from years ago. Traut said he is always astonished about “what a small world this is.”
The restored, repurposed grand old barn has a new lease on life as it approaches its centennial year.
Traut is going to make it available to relatives and friends if they want to hold special events in it, such as reunions or weddings.
In fact, already another wedding is scheduled there for the near future – the union of family friend Shanna Rogers with Randy Beckstrom, the manager of the Sartell Muskies baseball team.
The Trauts will host an open house at the barn from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. The public is welcome to attend.
photo by Dennis Dalman
Dave Traut holds the long-lost red fiberglass-handled hammer, which – to his astonishment – he found recently in the wall of his grandfather’s old barn. That hammer, which belonged to his father, had been missing for 47 years.
Dave Traut stands by the Barn Bar. Under the glass sheet on the bar are a series of photos showing the long, labor-intensive challenge to restore and repurpose the 90-year-old barn, which was built by Dave’s grandfather, Ed.
Newlyweds Sarah and Lex Anderson relax at a reception table in the restored barn.
Sarah and Lex Anderson stand by a barn door in the place they held their wedding reception. They were married in her parents’ Dave and Judy Traut’s yard right across the road from the old barn.
photo by Dennis Dalman
Dave Traut stands by a barn door under a very old sign made by his grandfather, Ed Traut, who built the barn in 1924. Ed was a dairy farmer, trucker and work-horse salesman.
photo by Dennis Dalman
Dave Traut and his wife, Judy, sit in wicker chairs in the haymow area of their restored barn. Judy did much of the interior decoration in the barn.
Aglow with thousands of lights, the dance floor and the bar (background) is located in the haymow section of the restored Traut barn.
Dave Traut smiles proudly with two of his three daughters, Jeanne (left) and the newlywed Sarah.
photo by Dennis Dalman
An intriguing wall cabinet, scruffed up by time and resembling an abstract painting by Jasper Johns, hangs behind the bar in the Traut barn.
This is the 90-year-old barn that Dave Traut, family and friends restored and repurposed, a very labor-intensive project that took many months. On Sept. 20, Traut’s daughter, Sarah, held her wedding reception in the barn after being married at her childhood home right across the road from the barn.
Ready for about 200 diners, the reception area was set up in the restored Traut barn for the Sept. 20 wedding celebration of Lex and Sarah (Traut) Anderson.