We rented an 1,800 sq. ft. store front in a new small shopping center at 6115 South Cass in Westmont about 10 minutes drive from Hinsdale.  Scot and I began to buy fixtures, equipment, and building supplies.  Somewhere along the line we met Ed Sarnaki, a colorful guy who had accumulated several acres of the oddest assortment of wonderful old architectural artifacts. It was a gold mine for us from which we gleaned oak whisky barrels, hanging scales, beautifully weathered barn siding, real butcher block counter, a country school black board, several massive barn beams, and lots and lots of other stuff we could use to build a beautiful home for Moss Hill.

Scouring the want ads we found someone selling an original oak walk in cooler from an old tavern and bought it sight unseen.   It had six glass doors on the front with badly rusted heavy hinges and door clasps.   My childhood friend Bill Wallin, excited to play a part in the Moss Hill vision knew of a shop that restored chrome plating for vintage automobiles and he took all the hinges, handles, and clasps there where they were beautifully restored to shiny new condition. The walls, doors, and compressor of that old cooler sat in a rented truck in my driveway for two weeks before we could install it in the store. 

My dad taught me how to use wood working tools at an early age and I could have probably built the interior of the store alone, but without Scot, who had recently seriously taken up wood working, Moss Hill would have never looked as beautiful as it turned out.  We had great fun working long into the night building that store as Scot’s table saw buzzed spreading sawdust everywhere. 

Old maple bowling alley’s were transformed into 20’ long countertops.  Barn beams hung from steel rafters above and were secured to the wall.  Retired 2 X 10 concrete covered cement form boards were wire brushed cleaned and oiled back to life to become beautiful display cases.  We rented a floor sander to refinish old barn beams bolting them together 4’ wide placing them on top of old oak barrels to make display counters.  The old schoolhouse 4’ x 8’ oak framed blackboard was mounted behind the check out station. 

We build an enclosed room for grinding fresh flour with an old farmhouse Dutch door and window so people could see it in operation.  Inside we installed two stone grinding mills with electric motors on spring mounted supports with ventilation. 

Behind the long bowling alley counter we placed 24 wooden barrels which held all sorts of nuts, seeds, grains, and beans.  An antique curved glass display case sat upon the counter in which we displayed freshly baked hand made breads.   The checkout counter was the old 8’ by 4’, 4” thick maple butcher block upon which sat one of those old mechanical cash registers.

Drawings by Becky Schmidt

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