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Historic family home restored

When she was in high school, Anne Keever sat on her front porch and watched the handsome neighbor boy drive by on his tractor.
“I would sit there and just wait to wave at him,” she said.
Despite this crush, Anne had “vowed and declared” never to marry a farmer. That problem was solved, however, when she found out Leonard Keever, who lived in the historic Keever farmhouse, wanted to be a teacher.
The couple married, had four girls, and Leonard kept up his part of the bargain for nine years.
But even during that time, Leonard was helping his father on Keever Farm during the evenings. Eventually he returned to the work full time.
“I couldn’t get farming out of his blood,” said Anne. “It’s just a way of life.”
And so the Keevers went back to their farming roots. They now say they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It was work, but it was still a good life,” said Karen Keever Bollinger, one of the Keevers’ daughters.
The historic farmhouse, which dates back to 1870 and has been in the Keever family since 1934, became a second home to Leonard and Anne’s children.
“If I wasn’t at my house, I was here,” said Sandy Kennedy, one of the Keevers’ daughters.
The children grew up working on the dairy farm, (which now produces soybeans, corn and wheat), and Leonard has worked the land all his life.
Twelve years ago, however, tragedy struck the family. Leonard’s parents died in a car wreck. While the farm remained active, the historic farmhouse fell into disrepair. Just going inside proved a painful experience.
“It was hard when they died,” said Kennedy. “It was hard for me to even come back here.”
For all those years, Anne and Leonard lived down the road from the house. It wasn’t until spring of 2005, however, that they became serious about repairing and remodeling.
“If we didn’t do it, it would just have deteriorated,” said Leonard.
When the project first started, the couple was optimistic. They soon found out it would require a lot more time, money and work than they originally thought.
Termites had eaten up wood, entire walls had to be replaced and a variety of critters had taken up residence — including a black snake and raccoons.

Restoring the farmhouse proved to be a challenge. Termites, raccoons and a long, black snake had all taken up residence in the home. Pictured left is the newly renovated living room. Pictured right is one of the cozy upstairs bedrooms. Chris Dean / LTN Photo

“We had to convince them they were not welcome,” said Anne.
After many months, however, the farmhouse has turned into what it once was — a beautiful home full of life.
“It’s just wonderful to see it finished and have some family back in it,” said Leslie Seacrest, one of the Keevers’ daughters.
The Keevers threw a party celebrating their move Jan. 15, and 250 people attended, sipped on cider and offered up compliments.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Anne said of the reactions.
While it did take a lot of time and money, the Keevers are happy to have their historic home back. They plan to keep it in the family for as long as possible.
“I don’t think I could stand it if it ever was sold or anything like that,” said Kennedy. “It’s our home place.”
The rest of her family feels the same way.
“It gives you roots, and it keeps you grounded,” said Bollinger. “I know I always can come home.”
by Sarah Grano

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