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History and Timeline of the Guesthouse


 The Guesthouse-1940-OldOakEstateFarmThe charming history of the Guesthouse on Old Oak Estate Farm began in the late 1930s when Clarence Briesacher asked his longtime girl, Virginia Vollmer, to be his wife.  When Virginia accepted, both she and Clarence knew that they were to set up home on the Briesacher farm and homestead (Old Oak Estate Farm).    However, Clarence's parents, Jacob T. and Auriela (nee Mueller) Briesacher, were still living there.  Thus in 1939, while Virginia prepared for her marriage and move from the White Farm (in which she lived since the age of two), Clarence began building the new in-law living quarters on the northwest corner of the farm for Jacob T. and Auriela to move into.

Additional History:  In a historical and genealogical side note, the White Farm in which Virginia and her family (parents William and Mamie (Moyle) and brothers William Jr. and Eugene "Gene" Vollmer) was once owned by Henry White and family.  Upon his death the farm went to the University of Illinois with provisions that his unmarried sister, Miss Lydia White, may continue to live out her days on the farm.  This left Miss White in need of a farmer for the White farmland and thus William Vollmer and his family become the renters in 1921.

Photograph: The completed farmhouse.  Taken 1940.


1940s The Guesthouse was built using many different tradesmen, family and friends, but with much of the work done by Clarence Briesacher himself.  Clarence and his brother, Warren, spent many days digging out by hand and horse, using a slip scraper, the basement for the new little farmhouse.  Clarence then built and squared the block walls for the basement.  Since the house construction began towards the end of the Great Depression, Clarence was able to secure several workers, each with their own talents to assistance him in building the small white house. Herman Koldehoff was hired to plaster the cistern, Earl Hummel and George Bertlemen were a hired for their carpentry skills, and Kenneth Shubert was hired to do the fireplace and it's brick.   Even though all these men were paid union workers, many family and friends of the Briesachers donated their time and skills, when they could, to help with construction as well.


"Back then everyone helped everyone. Instead of having a barn raising, we had a house raising!" --- Warren Brieacher

1940 Picture of the Guesthouse


The Guesthouse is blessed to still have the original white oak hardwood floors that Clarence laid in 1940, with exception of a 1970s living room addition.  Much of the trim is still original to the house.  Warren strongly believes that the bathtub is original to the house as well.  Even with all the work, Clarence did not finish the house by time he married his sweetheart, Virginia, thus, in 1940, his parents and brother went ahead and moved into the almost completed house making them the first residents. The bedroom on the eastside of the house was Jacob and Auriela's and the bedroom on the westside of the house was Warren's.


"There were a lot of choice words said while Clarence was putting in all this hardwood flooring." --- Warren Breisacher

Photograph: L to R:  Auriela (nee Mueller) with her aunt Dora (nee Metzler) Smith with house and The Old Oak Tree in background. 





Left Photograph: L to R:  First lady is unknown, man in back is John Metzler (Auriela's uncle), Matlida "Tille" Metzler (Auriela's aunt), Sophia Metzler (Auriela's aunt), woman behind Sophia is unknown, Auriela (nee Mueller) and Jacob T. Briesacher front of the eastside window and side door that is now in the garage. Photograph taken in mid 1940s.


Right Photograph: L to R: Auriela and Jacob T Briesacher outside their home in the 1940s.  Looking out onto the Old Belleville - Millstadt Rd, now Old Oak Lane. Where they are standing would now be in the garage.  The big tree branch in the picture is THE old oak tree in which the lane was named.



1950s Jacob T. and his wife Auriela lived in the house together for the next ten years.  Jacob was, it is believed, to have suffered from Azlheimer's and wish to moved "back home" to the old farmhouse.  Thus, in 1950, Clarence began construction on a new house.  This time the new house was for him and was done entirely with hand tools for there was not any electricity at a location at the end of a gravel road called Fahey Place (of Hwy. 159).  After construction on Fahey Place was completed, Clarence and Virginia with daughter Patricia moved in and  Clarence's parents, Jacob and Auriela, moved back into the old farmhouse.  However, this did not help Jacob's Alzheimer and so he was moved to an "old-timers home" in Alton, IL and in 1952 Jacob T. past away there.

After the death of Jacob, Auriela did not want to moved back into in-law living quarters that her sons built for her and her belated husband.  So, in 1952, the small Briesacher residence was rented out to Auriela's brother and his wife, George and Ella Mueller.   George and Ella Mueller rented the house for the next 16 years from the Briesachers. As far as the understanding, they did not make any changes to the house.



1960s In 1966, Auriela (nee Mueller) Briesacher's brother, George, past away.  His widow wife, Ella, move into the home of her son.  Thus for the first time, the house went unoccupied. The decision was made to sell the house, however, the St. Clair County did not allow a house to be sold unless it had one acre of land with it.  This decision then put the a piece of the original farmland that was bought by George Briesacher in 1854 out of the family heritage. In about 1967, Clarence sold the house with once acre of land to E. R. Waterson, a bricklayer. 


1970s - 1990s When E. R. Waterson purchased the house in 1967, many changes took place in and around the house.  The fireplace inside was bricked over and the two fireplace windows were cover.  A living room addition, garage, and porch were added to the house.  The original shed in the backyard was was enlarged and a another new square shed was built.  Sometime in the 1970s, the entire house was bricked, along with the two sheds in the backyard, and carpet was installed in the house for the first time. May other things were changed in the house, however, when the changes took place is uncertain.  Here is a list of those items.

  • A closet was added to Warren's room
  • The kitchen pantry was removed
  • The old bathroom sink was removed
  • The basement blocks were bricked over
  • The house started using municipile water
It was during this time that the county built the new Centreville road between Belleville and Millstadt.  In doing so, the county ask Clarence Briesacher if he would like to name the little piece of the old Centreville road (also known as the Belleville - Millstadt Rd) that horseshoed in front of the houses to Briesacher Rd.  Clarence said he did not wish that.  Instead, he name it Old Oak Lane in honor of the old oak that stood on the corner of the Guesthouse.  You can see part of it in the picture above where Auriela and Jacob and waiting outside their home.

2000s In 2001, E. R. Waterson passed away marking an end to the longest resident to occupy the small house, 34 years.  E. R. Waterson's grandson, T. Waterson,  bought the house from the Waterson family.   He began to do updates to the house to modernize it but a couple of years later neglect the house and thus considerable damage was done.  It was during this time that the old oak tree that the lane was named after was cut down due to it dying.  Michael and Gisela (nee Borawski) Hayes were able to secure two large pieces of the tree and Clarence's daughter and Michael's mother, Patricia (nee Briesacher) Hayes, had the pieces wood-worked into a bowl and serving set.  All of which are on display in the Farmhouse.


When Michael and his wife, Gisela purchased the Briesacher family farm in 2003 from Michael's grandmother, Virgina (nee Vollmer) Briesacher, Gisela envisioned to return the Guesthouse and the once acre lot of property back to the family's registered Sesquincentennial farm.  She offered to purchased the house from T.  Waterson but he turned it down. 


In 2009, the bank foreclosed on T. Waterson, and thus, the Hayes were able to secure the house and acre lot, with the financial backing of the Guesthouse's original resident, Warren Briesacher, back to the farm.  In doing so, brought Gisela's vision to realty and made the Guesthouse the oldest house on Old Oak Estate Farm.

"I'm happy that it's back with the farm." --- Warren Briesacher


2010sAfter the return of the house to the farm, the Brieascher-Hayes family farm was named, Old Oak Estate Farm.  After construction first began on the Guesthouse some 70 years prior by Clarence Brieascher, with the help of his brother Warren, Clarence's grandson Michael Hayes, along with Michael's wife Gisela began the much needed renovation and repair. This began a new chapter in the history of the Guesthouse.

The Guesthouse was gutted and the search began for 1930s and 40s period details to create a livable period house. Read the Renovation Blog.  Gisela envisioned a Guesthouse that had all the modern conviences of the new century but with an atmosphere that was stuck in a time warp of the good old days of 1930s and 1940s.  She scoured old family pictures for details to the lifestyle and period to which the Briesacher's lived that she could recreated.  Family members like Warren Briesaher and Pat (Briesacher) Hayes went back into their memory in order to offer all that could to the vision.