Bits and Pieces

Meat House Turns Into Art House Part 1

Aug 15, 2016

The original meat house was built to the left of the driveway going south to the barns, where you turn into the employee parking lot. It was destroyed by fire in 1939 according to an Agricultural Census late that same year. The cost of rebuilding was $2000.

The first section of the new one (pictured below) was constructed the same year, but I have never found any information as to when the second portion was built. The first portion that was built included freezer cabinets below the cupboards in the first room that was then the main entrance. The cupboards included storage space for aprons and other large cloth material used for handling dressed animal carcasses along with other material such as towels and paper bags. The next room just reminded me of a kitchenette with a stove, sink, a cupboard where dishes cups and glasses along with other items to, in effect, have a coffee break or a small lunch. It also included more space for spices that were used for curing and preserving meats. In the corner, close to an exterior door, now used as the entrance door, was a large vat where the lard was rendered. It was heated with steam. I removed the vat and it was later sold for scrap metal when it was no longer used.

Meat House
                    The new Meat House was constructed after the first was destroyed by fire in 1939.

You can see right above the door, at the beginning of the second section looking at the roof line where the carcasses were brought in, where the original part of the building ended, and the second section began. The double doors inside go into the room which is actually the addition or the second part of the building. The first part of the building was constructed with a type of clay tile covered with a type of stucco. Many of the other buildings were constructed with the same material during that period of time. The second part was constructed with cement block. The second portion presently begins with the wrapping room and also includes the walk-in freezer and cooler #3. The addition also included a smoke house, accessible only from the outside since it was fired with apple wood. There was an addition to the smoke house when Sister Mary Arnold wanted to install an automatic smoker which was added in 1958 and ‘59. Other than the laying of the concrete block, the addition was built by the men on the farm and myself. At one time there was a side entrance to the first section, but was never used after the second addition was added. The purpose of the building was to cut up, cure, smoke, wrap and store livestock and fowl that was to be used for human consumption.

Not long after the dissolution of the Farm Corporation, there was no use for the Meat House except for the storage of meats that were slaughtered, cut up and wrapped at a regular slaughterhouse instead of here at the Villa, along with apples, although they were stored in a separate cooler. In the early 1980s, Sister Therese Pavilonis and Sister Paulette Kirschensteiner submitted a proposal to the HM Community asking to convert the partially empty Meat House into an Art House where sisters, retreatants and guests could come and use the arts in their spiritual journey. Where it once fed the body, it would now feed the soul. The proposal was accepted and the work began.

Sr. Therese Pavilonis (left) and Sr. Paulette Kirschensteiner (right)  

~Frank Romeo, Director of Land Management Emeritus