Press-Republican

Local News

November 25, 2012

Babbie Museum saves Goshen Store

PERU — They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also took an entire community to save a historic structure in the Town of Peru.

Volunteers from just about every corner of this close-knit town have offered a helping hand wherever they could in a mammoth project to save and restore the Goshen General Store.

The building had been located near the intersection of River and Barney Downs roads but now sits on property owned by the Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum.

Goshen was one of the earliest settlements in Peru. Town Historians Ron and Carol Allen helped to place a historic marker at the location recently. A dam, bridge and two sawmills were also constructed at Goshen, though only some bridge abutments and stones from the foundations remain.

MOVED IN PARTS

The Goshen General Store building, which was used as a storage barn for the last several decades by Burrell Orchards and, more recently, Forrence Orchards, was transported in pieces last spring and is now being restored by museum founder Leeward Babbie and other volunteers.

“We’ve been working with Seth Forrence (who owned the barn) for some time,” said Roger Bonner, a member of the museum’s Board of Directors.

The Forrence family — like many area farmers — has saved historic artifacts that are of significance to the museum’s collection, Bonner noted.

“He was going through the old barn, and at some point, he decided that he was going to have to tear it down,” Bonner continued. “That’s when he went to Leeward to see if he (Leeward) had any interest in moving the barn.”

‘UNUSUAL STRUCTURE’

Babbie visited the structure and was interested in its potential. He approached the Board of Directors about the possibility, but board members felt it was too much for the museum to handle at the time, Bonner said.

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