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Setting the stage

September 1, 2012
By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

Open heart surgery has had more than a physical effect on Robert Mohn of rural Green Valley - it opened his heart more to the world around him.

"I don't care what denomination you are or what you do - as long as it's legal," Mohn said. "Most people are middle of the road anyway."

Mohn, along with his wife Elaine, is opening up their home and 11-acre property to anyone who wants to enjoy the grounds by having a family reunion there or as a place for scouts to camp.

Article Photos

Photo by Karin Elton

Robert Mohn of rural Green Valley stands on the porch of a repurposed building which will be the site of a family music festival Sept. 15.

An upcoming event is the Gathering of Friends family music festival which is Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1885 Heritage Music Hall, three miles north of Green Valley on Lyon County Road 67, at 3560 265th Ave. The entertainment includes bluegrass, gospel, country and polka music. Admission is a free-will donation.

The Heritage Music Hall is what he calls the renovated building on the acreage where he, his father and grandfather before him, lived.

Mohn retired from the seed business - he works on an as-needed basis for his son who took over the business - and started transforming buildings that were no longer being used into "a little village," he said.

All the hauling and sawing during the past six years since his surgery have paid off, he said.

"I'm in better shape than when I was 30," he said. "My blood pressure is 110 over 60."

Mohn said he was inspired to take on this project by his grandfather and great-grandfather. He said as he has gotten older he has more of an appreciation of the things his elders had accomplished and wished he had paid more attention to the stories they told.

Mohn has taken old items out of the barns such as tractor seats and farm implements and used them as decorations on the outside of his building which will be used as a gathering place.

In the gathering place is an area that will accommodate music that fits in with the old-time nature of buildings and decor in addition to being music that he likes to hear himself. He built a stage inside in case it rains or there will be an area on the porch outside if the weather permits. He built a couple of seating areas where people can sit to listen to the music and people can bring chairs as well.

"There's not much of a dance area," he said, "but people can dance if they want to."

Mohn said he gets ideas on what to do with the buildings as he works and then searches the Internet to see what's possible.

"I use Google a lot," he said. "I searched to see what to call the music hall - what was appropriate to the era."

Mohn said he would like input from the public on what else to add to his village.

"I'm open to suggestions," he said. "Next year, I want to make a half-acre park near here. I need to plant some new trees. Add a bathhouse and a few campers could camp there or Boy or Girl Scouts."

The bathhouse will look like an outhouse, but will have a flush toilet and a shower.

He has added a bathroom to the heritage hall - "my nephew, Rick Myhre, helped with the plumbing," he said - and will have port-a-potties for the music festival. The house will be open as well, he said.

The house will be open to anyone who has children who need a break from the outdoor festivities. The living room of the Mohn house is set up as a play area anyway for their grandchildren.

Another area of the property will be set aside for wiffleball, which is like baseball but uses a lightweight, plastic ball.

"I used to play that," Mohn said.

He will have an area for rolle bolle, too.

But in the meantime, Mohn is concentrating on getting the gathering place to look like what he has envisioned. In addition to the stage area, he has a dining hall, a parlor and a rec center - a room where people can play pingpong and cards.

Mohn said he gets a lot of his materials from donations. A friend of his, the late Larry Binnebose, gave him the wood from his daughter's garage that a tree had fallen on. Mohn used it to make the stage. Parts of the stage is adorned from remnants of Trinity Lutheran Church, which was south of Lucan. A stained glass window hangs overhead and pillars adorn the sides of the stage.

Another person has given Mohn windows and "a coupla bunk beds," he said. If anyone needs a place to store antiques, Mohn has a building for that, rather than see them get weathered or deteriorate.

Mohn said people wanting to use the property should call ahead at 507-828-4629 or e-mail



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