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Home, sweet silo: Old granary becoming new B and B

Staff writer

Marion residents Gerald and Jan Wiens are renovating an old stave silo as an alternative — or overflow — location to their existing Airbnb Paw Print Cabin at rural Elmdale.

Wiens has summer help from grandsons Jack Schneider and Carter Wiens and from Christian Pedersen. Although work began a year ago and was done in bits and pieces, this summer the workers are on a push to get the job done.

A kitchen/utility room has been added outside the silo entrance. It leads through a doorway into the silo itself.

“We had to cut an entry into the silo,” Wiens said.

When the ground level is finished, it will include a living room with a small bathroom.

As of now, wood subfloor covers what once was bare dirt from the building’s days as a working silo.

The second of four floors will be a small bedroom.

A main bathroom will take up the third floor.

The fourth floor will be the building’s master bedroom with 16-foot-tall ceilings.

A stairway spirals up from the ground floor to the master bedroom. Doors to the bedrooms and bathroom will provide privacy.

A roof is being built on the ground outside the silo. It will have a metal surface for durability, he said.

“We’re getting close to sticking the roof on,” Wiens said, estimating that a crane probably would hoist it atop the silo next week.

“Nobody wanted to go up there to work on in,” Wiens said. “It’s 45 feet.”

Native limestone circles the lower surface of the silo exterior. Siding will be added to the rest of the exterior.

The land on which the silo and Paw Print Cabin sit has been in Jan Wiens’ family three generations. After her grandfather’s death, his land was split among his children, and Jan and her sister jointly inherited a parcel. The Wienses later bought 40 acres from Jan Wiens’ sister.

Behind the cabin is a portion of Middle Creek. A bridge passes over it and leads to a walking trail. At the end of the walking trail is an observation deck.

Many features of the cabin are recycled from other buildings on the property.

Paw Print Cabin, on the same property, was completed in 2019. The cabin and the silo will be rented to one party only. Guests may choose one or both, but the pair will not be rented out separately, Wiens said.

The idea to renovate the silo came from Jan, Wiens said.

“We think it will be somewhere a lot of people will want to stay,” he said.

During work this summer, Paw Print Cabin is available only for weekends. That prevents guests from having to hear work being done on the cabin.

In 2020, the first full year Paw Print Cabin was open, guests flocked there to enjoy a quiet, secluded place where they didn’t have to wear masks, Wiens said.

That year, 200 nights were booked.

Last modified July 21, 2022

 

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