In early spring of 2016, after structural engineers’ reports, surveys, and many visits to city hall, work began on the restoration of what is home of StormCloak Forge. Located in Mequon, WI, the building was originally built in 1844 by Ephraim Woodworth who pioneered the property.
The building served as a baby formula and dairy workshop for Dr. Gustav A. Kletzsch in the early 1900’s. Later, it was a summer kitchen and then a butcher shop. The building fell into disrepair and ruin over the half-century that followed. The east wall was torn down to attach the building to a three story barn. After the barn collapsed and was torn down, the roof of the building collapsed in as well. By the time Sam and his wife found it and purchased the property, there wasn’t much left…
This is March of 2016. It was in rough shape, but we didn't see it for what it was. We saw it for what it could be... a place that a 20-year dream could finally take shape.
Most people would just bulldoze it and start over, but how can you just level 180 years of history? The architectural board for our community loved our plan and we began construction. The floor was first to try to provide stability and disturb the walls as little as possible once construction started on them. There were three layers of concrete that had to be removed and a new floor poured.
A gravel foundation was prepped and a low chert, fiber rich, high impact concrete floor was poured. Of course, through all this, we were battling the elements. Every time it rained, we lost more mortar out of the walls.
People began to notice the work being done and began to stop by. A relative of Ephraim even stopped by to share stories! All the walls were chiseled and tuck pointed. This took months and now we were well into August. When the walls were done, it was time to dig and pour the foundation for the missing wall. There had been a flower garden in front of the house and we used the stones around it to rebuild the wall. There weren’t quite enough, but most of the stone is right here from the property like the rest of those in the original walls.
16 yards of concrete went into the foundation for the fourth wall. Why so much? Well, we kept digging, hoping to find the original foundation. There wasn’t one.
The city demanded a concrete block interior for code so that went up first. The existing peak had to be matched. Our mason did excellent work. Once up, a stone façade was meticulously built inside and out.
The walls were now done. The roof ordered and built. Again, code dictated how the roof was built.
The exterior was completed just in time for the first snowfall of the year.
Over the winter, a chimney was installed and the interior work finished. Everything was complete 50 weeks after we began. In October of 2017, we hosted an open-house for our community, neighbors, and clients. A few local historians were there to fill us in on more history of the property and Ephraim’s descendant visited us again.