While it is unique in many ways, the history of the Vopat Homestead is the history of the Chech Heritage in Ellsworth County. At a time when many of the original homes were being torn down to avoid taxes, the Vopat Homestead survived because it stayed in the family through four generations. The original settler was Jakub Vopat with his wife Barbora. Next came their son Frank and wife Katherine. Currently living in the home is Adolph and Lila Vopat. While son Thomas does not live on the property, he actively participates in the running of the ranch.
The original two room building was actually two homesteads, established by the Vopat and Kepka Families in 1876. Each side consisted of 80 adjacent acres and the 2 room home was built entirely of rock harvested from the land. Each Homestead was one room sharing a common entry and with a common wall that was built right on the dividing line between the two tracts. In 1900 the Vopat Family bought the Kepka Homestead, tore down the Kepka room and reused the rock to build a 2 story addition. An original window in the Vopat room was replaced with an entry door.The original room was built of limestone “Homestead Style” – that is using rocks of different sizes with dirt fill. The rock for subsequent additions was of more precise size and concrete became the preferred fill.In 1922 the gables were straightened out by Adolph’s parents and the wooden part was added. In 1975 Adolph and Lila Vopat converted 3 small rooms into 1 room which is the only “modern” room as it has on/off switches for the lights instead of pull chains.All the original furniture is still being used, and all the original farm equipment is on display.
The Homestead Charter was signed by Chester Arthur in 1882 and now hangs in the original room. This room now serves as a formal dining room and is furnished with 1870 German furniture which was brought over from Berlin in 1936 when Hitler came into power.
In 1986 the Vopat Homestead received the Governors Preservation Award.
While no public tours are offered, private tours are available by appointment. Aldoph Vopat enjoys giving tours to 18-22 year old college students.