Family proposes subdivision to replace it
By Scott Bellile
The farm of a late Hortonville realtor who owned a downtown business for more than 60 years is coming down in hopes of fulfilling his posthumous wish.
Surviving family members of Herman Jennerjohn plan to build a 52-lot housing development on his former farm and the surrounding land, located on Highway 76 across from Lions Park.
The Jennerjohn Field of Dreams, as the subdivision would be called, is in the preliminary stage. Outagamie County and the Town of Greenville need to approve the plan before it moves forward.
In the meanwhile, the Jennerjohns are working on removing Herman’s farm buildings. Bonduel-based Amish construction company Floyd’s Carpentry began disassembling a metal storage shed on June 17.
Herman’s daughter-in-law Tracy Jennerjohn said the shed will be reassembled on her Hortonville land off of Main Road and Grand View Road for horseback riding.
Tracy invites anyone to haul Herman’s barn or other structures off of the property at N962 Municipal Dr. for keeps.
“Otherwise they will be bulldozed, which is sad to see them go,” she said.
Herman was born in 1927 and founded H.J. Jennerjohn in 1947. He worked until six months before he died of heart complications in fall 2010. H.J. Jennerjohn occupied several Hortonville offices throughout the mid-20th and early-21st centuries, most recently 226 W. Main St.
As a longtime realtor and auctioneer who served Hortonville, New London and the Fox Valley, Herman wished for his own property to be developed into commercial and residential housing, but not while he was alive.
“He was a farmer at heart,” his son Barry Jennerjohn said. Herman wanted his property to remain a hog farm as long as he was alive and then become a housing development after death.
Herman purchased the farm from the previous owner in 1958. He even planted pine trees early on, envisioning woodland yards for homeowners after his death, according to Barry.
Barry and Tracy took over H.J Jennerjohn after Herman died in 2010. They closed Hortonville’s office in 2012 and opened Jennerjohn Realty and Auctioneering in Appleton last year.
The Jennerjohn Field of Dreams would fulfill another wish Herman’s late wife Grace had. A house fire burned down the Jennerjohn home in 1986, the summer that Barry graduated from high school. Grace suffered a two-story fall and spent time in intensive care.
Grace asked Herman to rebuild the home, but Herman instead purchased and remodeled the nearby Skyview Motel. The couple lived the remainder of their lives in a house attached to the 10-room motel. The motel was torn down last year.
“My mom always wanted him to build a house,” Barry said. If the Jennerjohn Field of Dreams is approved, the property will see not one house, but more than 50.
Greenville Park Commission Chairman Greg Roble said Tracy offered to donate Herman’s barn to Lions Park across the road because she considers it a landmark that passerby have recognized for generations. However, the undertaking was deemed too expensive.
The move would have cost Greenville $35,000, according to Tracy, because power lines would have to come down to transport the barn in one piece.
Hypothetically Greenville would have taken the approach of moving the barn in one piece, but people who are interested in disassembling Herman’s structures and reassembling them somewhere off-site would not face similar costs, Tracy said.
As the family begins to subdivide the farm, Barry’s brother Mark Jennerjohn said they have put a lot of work into the farm after Herman’s death.
“I’ve got so many mixed feelings,” Mark said. “It’s sad in a way, but another way to relieve me.”
Tracy said the Jennerjohn family decided the best tribute would be to develop the property themselves rather than sell the land to other developers. But it will be hard to see the farm disappear.
“It’s definitely going to be a tearjerker when it actually goes,” she said.