Wessel home becomes living farm

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A phonograph crackles with Christmas music that fills the Wessel Farmhouse, decked out for the holiday’s, as visitors flock to see the remolded 1920s farm.
The house has seen many incarnations, but now is a Living Farm, showing the history of agriculture.

The Wessels farmhouse has blackened spots on the floor revealing signs of its previous use by York College to demonstrate controlled burns to students. The house was lived in for a time by Dave Wessels and his brother but was given to the college when he died, according to JoAnn Kuester a volunteer at the Living Farm.

The house was in disrepair when the college donated it to the Wessels Living History Farm in 2002. Movers uprooted the house, loaded it on a semi and placed it in its current location of 5520 South Lincoln Ave. in York, Kuester said. It has since been remodeled to resemble a prosperous farm of the 1920’s.

The house is filled with antique objects such as; a hand-made bootjack, old fashioned mouse trap, a wall coffee grinder and a wooden adjustable high chair. A feather Christmas tree sits in the second story, Kuester explains that family would paint the feathers green to resemble a green fir tree.

The Living History Farm was the idea of Dave Wessel, a farmer from York, who donated a large amount of his estate to the York Community Foundation after he died on Dec. 26, 1993. 

The physical site is a 145-acre plot of land that holds a 1920s style red barn, a small white church and a tractor museum from Wessels private collection.

“I think Dave always had living history in his mind,” said Dale Clark, Director of Wessel Living History Farm.

Nebraska Educational Television and The Ganzel Communications Group created the website for the farm, livinghistoryfarm.org, in Feb. 2003. It garners about 140,000 page views a month according to Clark. Both the physical farm and the website work to promote education of agriculture and provide guests with information on farming from the 1920s through today.

The museum hosts classes of students, visitors from around the world and can be rented for public events. The farm is open for “Christmas on the Farm” from Dec. 6 until Dec. 23rd.

“I most enjoy the people when we all get together – it’s a fun family,” Kuester said.

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