Both Jeff & Shelly love to take photos; Jeff's photos are also represented by Art Licensing, International of Vermont. Click below for a gallery of photos from Windsong Acres.
One of the attractions for many people at Windsong Acres is the large, three-level Koi Pond, built by the Rasches in the summer of 2011. Jeff has been a fish hobbyist for nearly 50 years, and designed the elaborate underground filtration system. Shelly takes care of the gardens "from the shore outward." For more info about the Koi Pond or the other animals at Windsong Acres, visit the link below.
Shelly Rasche is a freelance commercial artist whose designs have appeared on gift items, fabric, clothing, home decor, greeting cards, children's books, and many other items around the world. She is represented by Art Licensing International, based in Vermont. The Scale House is both her studio and a gallery that displays many examples of her artwork and commercial products based upon her designs. For more about Shelly's artwork, click the link below:
Pictured above is the "new" kitchen addition, using salvaged wood for cabinets & floors, & antique sink. Salvaged trim, hardware, and old-style electric fixtures are used throughout the house. For more details, visit the link below.
In 2009, Jeff Rasche received a new church-related position at Chaddock in Quincy, creating the opportunity to live in the "retirement house" a couple decades early! The current tenants in the house moved into their new home (which they have since been beautifully renovating), giving the Rasches about four months to work on the house before move-in date.
The Rasches completely gutted the farmhouse, replacing the old electric, plumbing, insulation, and furnace. They also removed the old, tiny kitchen and built on a larger one, plus a two-story addition on the south side of the house. The house was inhabitable by the end of a whirlwind four months, but the rest of the work to finish the house, room by room, took the next 7 years (and even now there are still a few things on the "to do list!"
Next the Rasches worked on the Scale House with the intention of creating an art studio for Shelly. It was called a "Scale House" because they could weigh wagons of grain on the large scale that is still embedded in the floor (and it still works today!).
Since it was dark inside (only one window, and it was boarded up), they added all the windows and the cupola in the roof to let in more light. They kept the beams and interior features, adding a new roof over the existing one to hide the insulation and wiring. They also converted one of the grain bins to a restroom, added a front porch, a loft and staircase, a fireplace, and a back room that would be easier to heat for Shelly's everyday use. The work took place over seven years, and except for hiring professionals for such things as installing the main electric panel, the furnace, and the shingles, the Rasches did all the work themselves.
Many of the extra or replacement boards needed were salvaged from other barns in the area.
Windsong Acres has made the news on several occasions; some stories have been about Shelly and her artwork, some about the renovation of the barns, some about events at Windsong Acres.
Here are links to some of our favorites:
In 2002, Jeff & Shelly Rasche purchased the land and buildings that are now known as "Windsong Acres." The house and barns were originally built in the late 1800's and early 1900's by Clarence & Clara Dickhut (she was a distant relative of Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln).
For the next seven years, the Rasches continued to live in the United Methodist parsonage in Camp Point, and rented the house which they intended to make their retirement home someday. Meanwhile, as they had time, they worked on repairing and renovating the barns.
First, they restored the large "Show Barn," which includes some of the most unusual architectural features for barns in Adams County as well as Illinois (click the link on this page for more photos and details about the barns and the renovation process).
The Rasches built the present cupola to be a replica of the original, based on the only known photo of the original barn. It is approximately 7' x 7', and featured two sets of double-hung windows on each exposure, plus fish scale shingles on each corner.
The roof was straightened and reinforced before the new cupola was lifted onto the barn with a crane. Numerous missing windows and boards were replaced, and then the barn was painted to match the three-color tones from the 1915 black/white photo.
Today the Show Barn (pictured below) is a working barn much like the original built in 1912, home to donkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, and a few "uninvited" critters from time to time!
Pictured above: Gunn Construction of Camp Point picked up the cupola (we held our breath!) and put it in its new location. Note the old metal vent that has just been removed (now it is a feature in the flower garden!) Below is the finished barn...