'It's the right thing to do': Man works on restoring family's 100 year old stone house
NEAR KISBY, SASK. -- Richard Krehbiel isn’t retired yet, but he spends all his free time on his retirement project, The Smithfield Heritage Restoration Project.
The house Krehbiel is restoring was built by his great grandfather, Jimmie Smith. in 1903 and was named Smithfield as part of Scottish tradition.
Smith came to Canada from Scotland looking to farm and raise a family.
“Scotland at that time was pretty much full as it still is,” Krehbiel said. “No room to grow Agriculture in Scotland in the 1880s. So he came here set up this operation to be very successful horse and grain operation.”
Located near the village of the Kisbey, at the base of the rolling hills of the Moose Mountains, Smithfield is a three-story Edwardian field stone house.
Construction on the house started in 1899 and was complete, in 1903.
The home has four bedrooms along with servant’s quarters. The servant’s quarters even has a separate staircase that leads to the kitchen.
Krehbiel’s family lived in the home for decades, but it didn’t stay in his family.
Since the late 1980s, Smithfield had been vacant.
“I had spent many years in British Columbia, I started to wonder just whatever happened to Smithfield,” Krehbiel said. “It's such an important part of our mother's history. And I came back in 2005 to find the house pretty much dilapidated. Not really abandoned, but just not kept up with. It had been highly vandalized and was crumbling essentially.”
After that visit, Krehbiel knew he had to restore his family’s home.
He worked out a deal with the current landowner that he would allow him to lease the yard.
He said he wanted to restore Smithfield because, “it was the right thing to do.”
Since 2005, Krehbiel has restored the exterior which included hand chiselling out all the mortar and replacing it.
Krehbiel will now begin the construction on the interior of the house.
“I wish I had more time and more money to go faster on it, but I've never had any regrets about undertaking this,” Krehbiel said. “ I still have a lot of work to do, and I'm looking forward to doing that as long as my you know health stands up and you know, God willing.”
This restoration project has even won a Lieutenenant Governor Of Saskatchewan Heritage Award in 2019 called the Physical Heritage Conservation Award.
Krehbiel said he doesn’t know the exact future of the house. He said he might live in it or turn it in to a bed and breakfast or tea room.
But Krehbiel said some things in life, are worth the time and the effort.
“I think the importance of restoring and preserving and remembering and researching this period of history and the buildings of the people that went with it, is really important now a days.”