More than a stone’s throw from Scotland, there’s a legacy being restored.
“It’s an important historical piece to the Chatfield area. I love stone structures and I’m fascinated by this stone structure and its history,” said Zeb Dudek, speaking of the Jordan Town Hall, located between Chatfield and Spring Valley, built by Scottish immigrant Thomas Ferguson in 1877.
“I grew up in Jordan Township, so it’s got sentimental value,” Dudek continued. “A lot of the original stone structures of the area are disappearing and we have the opportunity to save one. I think that endeavor will be embraced so that we can show future generations what things were like at one time.”
The township hall is now the object of a restoration project initiated by a group of Jordan Township neighbors. These individuals recognize that the single corner that has fallen in is entirely repairable by the right stonemason and they have a vision to make the hall a vital meeting place once again.
Dudek stated, “It’s in really decent shape. One corner fell apart, but we’re working on getting it restored. It really started this year…that’s when we started putting effort into getting it restored. The wall fell out last year, but this year’s when we started trying to get state Legacy Fund grants and get the building put on the historic register.”
Dudek explained he and his fellow committee members are all township residents who really appreciate the hall’s history and value.
“It’s quite a unique building,” he explained. “It was built in 1877 for $1,000 by a gentleman named Thomas Ferguson and he built the Stone Barn outside of town, too. He came from Scotland — where he learned the stonemasonry trade — and it’s obvious that he learned it there because it’s a solid building…like the castles that were built from stone in the 1300s. The craftsmanship alone is very well done, and it’s a very solid building, still very structurally sound.”
At this point in time, the repairs necessary for the hall include replacing stones and mortar and doing some tuckpointing.
“The stone structure that fell down needs to be corrected, and there’s some tuckpointing that needs to be done,” Dudek said. “The restoration of the windows, the wooden floors…they’re old, so naturally, there’s some dry rot. Long term, we’d like for there to be period-correct lighting and furniture inside.”
The neighbors’ collaborative has already held a fundraiser for the sturdy old stone soul and the restoration will begin as soon as the snow melts in the spring.
“We had very good turnout. I’d like to thank everyone who came and assisted in the event,” Dudek said. “The food and music were good and well-received by the residents. Fundraising is still in progress — we’ve tried to get Legacy Fund grants and we’ve found a stonemason to do the stone work.”
He also explained the original mortar holds the stone together well, and it’s quite unique, so they sent a sample to be analyzed.
“Modern mortar would not hold it together for very long, so this will be the correct mortar,” he added. “It’s going to take time to get the mortar analyzed and it will take a while for it to get set. It won’t be hard enough to withstand frost and cold, so work won’t start actually until next spring so that it will have the entire summer to let it set. Once that’s done, restoration’s going to be done based on grants and funding.”
Dudek acknowledged the process of making the Jordan Town Hall shine will be relatively spendy.
“Anytime you’re trying to recreate something that’s hundreds of years old and make it time-period correct, it’s expensive,” he said. “There will be opportunities within the Legacy grants for continuous funding and once we get the building back in line, we’ll have to have some type of maintenance for it. If the property is maintained, it can easily stand another couple hundred years or more just because of how solid the structure is.”
The group anticipates the hall and its yard serving as the setting for family gatherings and weddings and Dudek suggested that it also might be a wonderful background for Chatfield High School seniors’ photographs.
“It can be used again for Jordan Town Hall meetings, as gathering places for other township events, possibly used by other people in the area if they want to have a picnic,” he continued. “We plan on cleaning the grounds and removing the brush and wooded area, make it an open park with those beautiful oak trees all around.”
Dudek said when the process of restoring the Jordan Town Hall comes to an end, he’ll feel “the satisfaction that it looks really nice” and that “it’ll have a warm feeling when they hold meetings and events at the location.”
The neighbors will gladly accept donations for the project, though no specific person has been chosen as a treasurer, so Dudek suggested that prospective donors contact the Jordan Township secretary or treasurer for information on how to donate.