Let’s go to the store. In this case, we’re not going for milk or bread. We are visiting a historic store building which is becoming a cultural and educational center for a rural region of Kansas.
Patty Reece and her husband Jerry are owners of the Volland Store, a historic structure in the community of Volland. Patty is from Oklahoma originally. She met and married Jerry, who ultimately developed a successful real estate business in Kansas City. When he and Patty drove to visit her family in Oklahoma, their route would take them through the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas.
“We fell in love with the Flint Hills,” Patty said. Their daughter attended K-State. Eventually they bought a home in the Flint Hills of Wabaunsee County.
Their new home was north of the tiny community of Volland, where they spotted a deserted brick building. The windows were gone, the roof was gone, but the walls were still standing. The word was that it was a former store building now owned by an out-of-town descendant.
Meanwhile, Patty got involved in Wabaunsee County. She served as art editor of the Field Journal for the Symphony in the Flint Hills when Wabaunsee County hosted the event. In the process, she worked with local historian Greg Hoots. She learned about Otto Kratzer, the remarkable man who had built the store at Volland. She even met and befriended the current owner, Otto’s granddaughter Karen Durso.