r When Sarah and James Wills moved to Springville from Holliday two and a half years ago, they had no idea the treasures they’d uncover, both physical treasures and the prize of community support and stronger family bonds.
The home they purchased was built in the 1860s by Solomon Chase and had been owned by the second mayor of Springville. They’ve learned there was an addition built onto the house in the early 1900s. Bathrooms weren’t added until the 1960s.
It’s been a labor of love for the Wills and their three children to restore the 1800 square foot house and to tame the one-third of an acre it sits on.
“The home has been our little fixer-upper, our hidden treasure,” Sarah says, adding, “We love Springville. It’s the first place we’ve felt really committed to the community.” And the community has been committed to them through home and yard projects, health scares, a surgery, and more.
An attempt to pour a patio proved frightening when the backhoe they were using began to be swallowed up by a sinkhole. “The ground was sunken…and shaking. It was kind of scary,” Sarah says. The Wills soon discovered the sinkhole actually held a very old, buried shed and root cellar.
In the process of removing the underground structure, they found an old shelf that still supported jars of preserved food. They also discovered medicine bottles, silverware, an antique door handle, and at least 2,000 bricks.
But what was most surprising for the Wills was the impact the cellar—and the house in its entirety—has had on their lives on a deeper, more spiritual level.
“Digging out the root cellar was cathartic for me. I felt like I was digging through the pain, the mental and emotional, and it felt like I was taking my power back. Every heave of the shovel, I would recite Stephen R. Covey: ‘There is no chance, no destiny, no fate that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.’”
Then, in October, after days of rain, their large green ash tree fell. Their neighbors were there, helping them remove the waste and clean it up. The Wills felt it appropriate to respect the home and its history by keeping the fallen tree on the property. They’ve given back to their neighborhood by using that massive log to construct a bench for the neighbor kids who ride the bus to BYU to sit on while they wait.
Sarah feels grateful for the lessons learned. “Our house (has given) us the best gift we could have imagined—(the knowledge) that our family can do hard things.”