Work near the tennis courts along County Road 30, next to Osseo Middle School, had to come to a stop in early June.
Dale Carlstrom, Facilities/Transport/Operations with the Osseo Area School District, said civil engineers were working and digging in the ground for a new turf field in Maple Grove.
“The civil engineers hit some footings,” he said. “When they looked they saw it was part of a building.”
Construction was stopped to determine exactly what it was. “We had to do some forensic work, but we had an idea what we were looking for,” Carlstrom said.
He and other officials looked back at aerial photos from the 1960s. “In the old pictures, we could see the barn, home and grain bin standing there,” he said.
The Wilmes family farm was located near County Road 30, near Osseo Middle School and Osseo High School. The farmstead had two homes on the property, one was Matt Wilmes' and other was his son's John. Parts of a house, the basement floor from John's and the barn were found in June.
Rogers McHugh, a Maple Grove resident and member of the Maple Grove Historical Society, said he remembered going to the house and barn. He even remembered when a fire destroyed the barn.
Back in late September 1967, the Wilmes’ barn burned down in a large fire. The Wilmes farm property was surrounded by Osseo School District properties of Osseo High and Osseo Junior High schools.
According to the Osseo Press, Oct. 5, 1967, “The fire was noticed at 8:30 p.m.” There were over 5,000 bales of hay and straw that were consumed in the blaze, the paper reported. The estimated damage costs in 1967 from the fire were $14,000.
“The fire was first noticed by two teachers attending a meeting at the junior high school to west of the burned barn,” the Osseo Press reported. “Huge crowds of spectators at the Osseo - St. Cloud Tech football game being played a block south swarmed to the fire scene when the flames broke out.”
McHugh added this area back in 1966 had just received water via a water main. “The water main went in when the Osseo Junior High was built,” he said.
He said see burnt wood and bricks were visible. He also said he saw the tile from the basement floor and some lead piping from the barn.
“People are trying to make progress, but history showed up again,” McHugh said of the findings.
Carlstrom said the EPA had to do testing of the soils, but clearance was given at the beginning of July. Work has begun to remove the footings and demolishing the unearthed items.
McHugh added that if people are interested in learning more about the fire or history of the area, to come to the Maple Grove History Museum, 9030 Forestview Lane. There are old yearbooks, as well as other historical artifacts. The museum is open the second Sunday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. For further information call Roger at 763-425-2233.
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