It was chilly in the old farmhouse at Willoughby Heritage Farm in Collinsville, but that didn't seem to bother the merry band of retirees who are renovating it.
Bill Jourdain, 66, of Collinsville, was measuring, cutting and laying cement subflooring in the bathroom.
"I retired (from Granite City Steel) two years ago," he said. "I've been volunteering for my church, but I thought I'd try this, too. The pay is good. We get doughnuts, and we get great lunches."
The food comes courtesy of Collinsville Area Recreation District (CARD), which bought the 40-acre farm in 2002. Officials wanted to create a place where the public could learn about agriculture, history, nature and conservation.
Volunteers spent the first few years tearing down dilapidated buildings, removing trash, raising barns, planting gardens, installing livestock pens and clearing trails.
This year, they moved indoors to renovate the farmhouse, which will serve as home base for interpretive programs.
"Our No. 1 mission is to preserve our Midwestern farm heritage and natural resources, and that includes showing people how a farmhouse functions," said Coordinator Carol Frerker, 44, of Maryville. "This is where the day began and ended for the family."
Joseph and Hannah Willoughby built the craftsman-style bungalow in the early 1920s and reared seven children in it.
The home sat vacant for eight years before descendants sold the farm. It had cracked stucco, broken windows and major interior damage caused by a leaky roof.
"Basically, all the old lath had been destroyed," said Mark Kosmatka, 54, of Collinsville, CARD grounds and maintenance employee. "The volunteers put in new walls and ceilings. We stripped the floors.
"The woodwork was black. We thought we were going to have to scrape it, but we were able to clean it with a little Murphy's soap and extra-fine steel wool."
Volunteer Jim Grobmeier, 64, of Collinsville, put similar effort into scrubbing the kitchen's porcelain sink, which sits next to a built-in hutch.
The Air Force retiree's most recent project was hanging, painting and replacing hardware on a door to the basement.
"Who wants to be a couch potato and get fatter?" Jim said. "No, really, it's something for me to do, and it will be something for my grandson (John Misiewicz) to enjoy. I've brought him out here a couple of times, and he liked being with the animals and seeing how people used to live."
Also volunteering that day was Carol's father, Louis Ray, 72, of Maryville, who is in charge of trail-building and maintenance. He came out to check for downed trees or limbs.
Volunteer Walt Hischke, 79, of Collinsville, was installing underground wire to the farm's dump tank. His specialty is repairing old tractors and anything else with a gasoline engine.
"Many people find pleasure in coming to Willoughby to visit and see the animals and walk the trails," said Walt, a retired Lutheran minister. "So it's worthwhile enabling them to do so."
Kosmatka has built a wheelchair ramp next to the farmhouse so disabled people can participate in programs. Contractors installed a new heating and cooling system, but they left the cast-iron radiators for ambience.
CARD eventually plans to fill the home with period furniture, including pieces from the Willoughby family.
"The whole idea is to keep the look and the character of the era, roughly the 1920s through the 1950s," Carol said.
Much of the work at Willoughby Heritage Farm has been funded by grants from Madison County Planning and Development and Madison County Community Development.
The farm is at 631 Willoughby Lane in Collinsville. The gate is open 9 a.m. to dusk daily.
"It's amazing how many people come out (to hike on) the trails," Louis said. "We have three miles of marked trails, and then we have these other trails. We're trying to make it where people can use them year-round, but it's a long process."
Wednesdays are work days at Willoughby. More volunteers are needed. For more information, call CARD Marketing and Communications Coordinator Elizabeth Davis at 618-346-7529, ext. 123.