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Barry Schrader


I have been writing a column for the Chronicle most of the time since December 2007, with two breaks, one in 2016 and the other in 2017 when my wife Kay suffered a stroke. They are all archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Farm silo and granary repurposed

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist.............................May 4, 2018

Driving on Rich Road west of Annie Glidden Road, you may first spot a 12-foot-high sculpture of a dragon carved from the trunk and branches of a dead tree, then a Harvestore silo and behind that a granary that has a front door and windows.

If you are curious, as I am, you may pull into the driveway and look for the owners. This county used to produce mostly corn and soybeans, then vineyards sprouted up, even whiskey distilling, but what can you do with an old silo and grain bin?

Stop and ask Terry and Virginia Fleetwood for a look inside their workshops and you will be amazed at the transformations. The two structures have been insulated, heated, windows added and made into two-story workspaces. Terry was a toolmaker by trade for more than 40 years, retiring after they bought this farmette, and Virginia is retired from the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. At one time they owned Bygone Era Antiques on State Street in Sycamore, but the business is no more.

Wanting to keep busy in retirement, they decided to convert the two farm outbuildings. His is for furniture repair, restoration and even replicating broken or missing pieces, using his extensive array of tools, lathes and other woodworking equipment. She then takes the project to her shop and does the refinishing and other retouching.

Looking around her shop, it looks more like an art studio. She combines photography and art to make

Terry and Virginia Fleetwood stand outside their two workshops, a silo at left and a granary in background. They remodeled both farm grain storage facilities for use as a workshop and art studio. (Schrader photo)

A dead tree trunk and branch was turned into a clever wood sculpture of a dragon attacking a gnome’s house, in front of their Rich Road farmette. (Schrader photo)

framed creations, using a transfer technique to apply the artwork or photos to other surfaces.

The results of their work can be found in local churches, homes, businesses and even at Glidden Homestead. They don’t need to advertise, as word of mouth brings them enough projects to keep them occupied year-round. In addition to this, they find time to make toys, rocking horses, chests and little benches for grandchildren and great-grandkids.

Virginia mentioned they have seven children, 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, mostly in this part of northern Illinois. Oh, and there are 18 cats at the farm. But, as we talked, a mother cat was about to deliver another litter. Virginia said she seems to always be calling friends and neighbors to see if they would like a kitten.

So if you are out for a drive and would like to show the family a fire-breathing dragon attacking a gnome’s house, find Rich Road. But beware of stopping; there may be a cute little kitten in your car by the time you leave.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115