Rural Missouri - February 2018 - 16
Scott County man renovates old country store
by Paul Newton | email@example.com
enny Schlitt always thought about building a replica of an old country
store on his property upon retirement. Those stores were community
staples in rural southeast Missouri where farmers would get everything
from a loaf of bread to a pair of Knapp work boots. He got his old country store, but it sure isn't a replica.
In 2014, Kenny moved the old Gosche (previously Caney) Store from the
location where it stood since the 1920s to a portion of his property just off
County Highway 266 in rural Scott County. He renovated the 1,250-squarefoot store inside and out to harken back to a time where a slower pace of life
was the norm and strangers didn't exist in small towns.
"I like preserving history," the SEMO Electric Cooperative member says.
"Once something is gone, it's gone for good. I'm trying to save things of historical signiﬁcance. I hate to see those memories gone. People walk in here and
they think back to their childhood or maybe to what their dad, mom, aunt or
uncle might have done in this store. It's part of their lives."
The store was originally built as a two-story home and business around the
turn of the 20th century and featured a dance ﬂoor and living quarters. Following a ﬁre decades later, it was rebuilt to the structure it is now, with the store
and living quarters separate.
Kenny says while he visited different country stores in southeast Missouri
more often, he'd been in the store plenty when he was younger.
The store remained busy until 1985 when owner Sam Gosche passed away
and it closed. While it did serve as a polling place for several years, its main
function was storage for the Mangels family who bought it from the estate. After
a few decades, the building became dilapidated and either needed to be torn
down or fully renovated. That is where Kenny came in.
Walking out of Guardian Angel Church in Oran in the spring of 2014, Kenny
overheard his brother talking to Kent Mangels about tearing down a building
and inquired which structure they were mentioning.
"They told me 'the store,' " he says. "They didn't really want to tear it down
but it didn't suit their purpose and it was in desperate need."
Seeking a piece of Caney Creek history, Kenny and his wife, Mary, who had
never been in the building, asked to take a peek inside. "I took that look inside
and it felt like I could see all the ghosts or spirits that have enjoyed the store
before sitting there. I just remembered all the people I would see in here."
He originally asked about taking the old bar out of the store before deciding
to pass on that. "But I just wouldn't let it go," says Kenny, who retired from
MFA Inc. in August 2016. "The next day I was on my way to Farmington to do
some work and saw a few houses and barns on stone. Knowing the store was
on stone, I said 'heck, we moved a house off a farm into Oran in 1969, that
store could be moved.' "
Kenny stopped to see Kent that evening and asked what he would think
about moving the store to his property. "He said, 'Today I say it'd be free.' I told
him not to hold me to that, but I was going to try and get a budget together and
see what it'd cost."
Just a few months later, Kenny had hired movers and the project began.
"I probably could've got some friends and neighbors to move it, but I'm sure
one of us would've ended up hurt and it might get delivered in a few different
pieces," he jokes.
Movers spent eight days preparing the store before loading it up and taking
Above: Kenny Schlitt renovated the old Gosche Store using the original bar from the historic country store that serviced southeast Missouri farmers for decades. Below left: While it may
look like Kenny is playing a modern-day pinball machine, this is actually an old mechanical gambling machine. Below right: Kenny stocked the store with items reminiscent of days gone by.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2018
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