You Know You’re From...Wausau: The Old Sign Barn
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - When driving along Highway 52 into, and out of, Wausau you’ll pass by this barn.
“Bought it in the early 1990′s,” said owner Dick Weik.
One corner at a time Weik has rebuilt the old barn.
”Reinforced with steel beams,” he said. “Basically did everything by myself. It was overcome by brush and you could hardly see the barn.”
A self-described old guy with a bad habit of collecting.
”Tractor collection. Old car collection. Bamboo fly rods. Wood canoes. You name it, just about everything,” he said with a smile.
Including the antique signs that decorate it today.
”I tried to get all porcelain but they get really, really expensive.”
Approximately 115 signs hang on three sides. Each one has a story, starting with one in particular.
”On that end there is a Texaco sign and it was one of the first signs I bought. It’s about 6 feet tall. It’s porcelain. I got it down in Iola. We had two guys go up the ladder and then we had two guys inside with a rope that got it up there.”
On the inside, the barn is used for storing items from Dick’s hobbies, on the top and bottom levels.
”This is full of signs and vehicles down here. I have signs all over there. Behind this I have three VW’s,” as he pointed.
“Definitely his baby, yep,” said wife Linda with a chuckle.
When Linda married Dick last year, she knew what came with their union.
“I think it’s great. You need to have something to, you know, fill your time that you enjoy,” she said.
The tour through the past continues beyond the barn. A graveyard, if you will, for old gas station signs.
”Never had an inkling that’s how it’d turn out,” Dick said.
Then there’s the rusted-out fire truck. An ode to his 24 years as a volunteer fireman with the Town of Wausau. Now at 73, the retired teacher is done adding signs to his property and says he’ll enjoy it for what it is.
“Texaco sign that I paid $50 for, they’re asking $3,000-$4,000. And every month there are auctions nationwide where they just sell, I mean, people have huge collections.” he said. “Thousands and thousands of dollars they pay for signs. And I’m not in that league.”
So keep in mind...what’s old to you, would be new to someone else.
”Before you think about throwing something in the garbage, somebody might enjoy it,” Linda said.
It’s certainly a conversation piece. Their most memorable visit came when a couple stopped by from Tomahawk. The husband was battling Alzheimer’s. But he enjoyed the signs so much and talking with the Weiks, he came out of that shell and was able to continue the conversation with his wife on their way home.
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