Renovations are well underway inside the Printery at Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. 

Senior Curator Andrea Klassen says this is one of three buildings getting a makeover this summer. As part of their village street renewal project, crews are tackling the Livery Barn restaurant, the General Store and the Printery. 

Klassen says the Printery is one of the smallest buildings on the grounds. However, she notes it is the most complicated renovation they are undertaking this year, with the main focus being the foundation. 

According to Klassen, the Printery is a replica building that was constructed on-site in the 1970s. The main pieces of equipment inside the Printery belonged to Jacob S. Friesen, also known as Printer Friesen, who was the creator of the Steinbach Post. She says inside the Printery is a 100-year-old large cast iron platen press as well as a huge drafting table that has a three-inch granite top.

"So, lots of heavy equipment inside this small space," she points out.

Klassen says in recent years they have noticed that the floor is caving in along one of the walls. The belief was that the foundation could not handle the weight of the heavy equipment. However, she notes it was hard to know exactly what was wrong until they pulled up the floor. 

The museum hired Walls That Speak to do the renovation and Klassen says their theory was quickly confirmed.

"The floor was pulled up and sure enough, the foundation just wasn't up to carrying the load of all of that heavy equipment," she says.

Klassen notes they have now laid a new concrete foundation and will return all of the equipment back to its spot before reopening the building. 

But that is not the only project happening with the Printery building. Klassen says the new concrete foundation is what visitors will not see. However, what will be visible is the work happening to the exterior. Klassen explains that some of the siding had started to rot, and those boards are being replaced before the building gets repainted. 

"Walls That Speak is very good at understanding the historic integrity of the buildings at the museum and doing their best to uphold that integrity," notes Klassen. "And so, my hope when people walk in is that most people won't even notice the difference, except for the floor is not falling away toward the far wall and the furniture isn't sinking."

Klassen says the goal is to have all of the work completed before the snow flies. 

Meanwhile, other improvements along the village street include repainting the Livery Barn restaurant and repainting and insulating the General Store.


With files from Michelle Sawatzky


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