Renovations for J.C. Penney house

Local members of the J.C. Penney Foundation board and volunteers from the JCPenney corporation gather in front of the freshly painted homestead. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)

The historic J.C. Penney homestead in Kemmerer got a facelift last week as volunteers from the JCPenney corporation fixed up the house, which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

Volunteers painted the exterior of the house, installed a new roof and built and painted a new fence in the back of the property to restore the homestead to its former glory.

Joe McFarland, the executive vice president of JCPenney stores, visited Kemmerer on Thursday, Sept. 7, to celebrate the homestead updates and visit with local J.C. Penney Foundation board members.

McFarland was joined by several corporate leaders of the company.

The group visited with employees at the original J.C. Penney store to thank them for representing the company well.

The corporate members held a meet-and-greet with local J.C. Penney Foundation board members at the homestead.

“You won’t ever have to worry about this house being rundown again,” McFarland said. “We’d like to thank the foundation for all the work they do to preserve this piece of American history.”

The statement received applause and thanks from the local board members and volunteers.

McFarland mentioned that the leadership of the JCPenney corporation were renewing a commitment to celebrate the history of the company and educate the public about J.C. Penney’s extraordinary life and business smarts.

The Kemmerer homestead sees thousands of visitors each summer, and it was in need of updates that would have been difficult without the help of the JCPenney corporate leadership.

The large group of volunteers in red JCPenney shirts at the homestead drew attention from locals and tourists, and many people came by to see what all the commotion was about.

A volunteer from the JC Penney corporate office paints the shed outside the J.C. Penney homestead in Kemmerer on Thursday, Sept. 7.  Volunteers from the corporation came from across the nation to work on the homestead. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)

J.C. Penney Foundation members were still giving tours of the home to visitors as volunteers painted and fixed up the exterior.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” said board president Heather Ball of the homestead upkeep. “It’s been crazy around here, but it really looks great.”

The J.C. Penney homestead was once located in another spot downtown, but the homestead was relocated after J.C. Penney’s death and the home’s designation as a historic landmark.

On June 9, 1982, the restored J.C. Penney homestead opened to the public.

The city of Kemmerer celebrated with a parade through downtown, and the homestead and the original J.C. Penney store have been tourist attractions for Kemmerer ever since.

Executive vice president of JCPenney stores Joe MacFarland told the members of the JC Penney Foundation on Thursday, Sept. 7, that they “won’t ever have to worry about the house being rundown again.” (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)

Foundation board members who give tours of the homestead to tourists say the site attracts tourists looking for a little piece of American history.

“I love hearing the stories of all the different and interesting people that visit here,” said Robin Leming.

JCPenney volunteers paint the door and railing of the historical J.C. Penney home in Kemmerer to restore the homestead to its former glory. Volunteers spent several days priming and painting the exterior of the house, as well as installing a new roof and a backyard fence. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)