Maries County native’s sketches of old county buildings is a hobby of historical significance

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 9/23/20

VIENNA — When Maries County native Jerry Honse picks up a pencil and begins to draw on his 400 Series sketch paper, he’ll likely draw a building or structure located at a place close to …

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Maries County native’s sketches of old county buildings is a hobby of historical significance

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VIENNA — When Maries County native Jerry Honse picks up a pencil and begins to draw on his 400 Series sketch paper, he’ll likely draw a building or structure located at a place close to his heart—Maries County and his hometown Vienna.

“I like drawing the buildings around town that are either already gone or could be soon,” says Honse. He’s become more prolific with his sketching as he retired last year. Because of the coronavirus, he has more time to research his next project and to put his pencil to paper.

Jerry is 61 years old and is the oldest of the four boys to late Gerald and Mattie Honse of Vienna. Jerry lives in St. Louis, Larry died, Garry lives in the Dixon area, and Tom in Vienna. Gerald died in 2000 and Mattie in 2018.

Jerry graduated from Vienna High School in 1977, which is where his passion for drawing began. He credits Vienna artist/historian/collector John Viessman, a former teacher, with helping him discover his raw talent. He began sketching and drawing while in Viessman’s class at VHS. Jerry designed the 1977 high school yearbook cover and also the Vienna flag.

Drawing led Jerry to his life’s occupation. He went to trade school and graduated from St. Louis Community College in mechanical engineering. He worked at Essex Industries for 38 years, designing liquid oxygen systems and converters. “I love to draw and sketch, so pencil drawing was my passion, but drafting and design was my career field.”

He met is wife at church. He and Martha Taff Honse have three children. Tim Honse (Trinity), who is a public defender for Jackson County in Kansas City and they have four children; Susan Honse who works for the state; Allison (Jeff) McManus who is a school teacher in Jefferson County and they have one child.

He likes to draw the places he fondly remembers from his youth. Some of these he has drawn from photographs published in the Maries County History books by the Historical Society of Maries County. He has all of the volumes and particularly likes volume 1, the Pictorial History of Maries County. Some of his drawings include the old swinging bridge on Ballpark Road/MCR #213 (gone now), the courthouse, the old Vienna High School (mostly gone now), the Dairy Park at Highway 63 South (gone now), the rock building of Gold Nugget in Vienna that had many functions throughout the years, the Maries County Bank branches, including the first bank in Vienna (gone now), the new Honse Implement Company with plans to draw the old one, too, and Melvin Wansing’s 66 Station (gone now).

He also has been drawing the Century Farm barns on Maries County Collector Jayne Williams Century Farm Barns calendars. He saw the feature stories about the barns in this publication and began to draw some of them. He gave LaVaughn (Elrod) Zimmer a drawing he did of the barn on her family’s farm. She liked it very much.

He’s drawn buildings in the St. Louis area as well such as sketches of Ted Drew’s Ice Cream and Crown Candy. Jerry also likes old cars and trucks. He has some nice sketches of a 1951 Plymouth, a 1967 Ford Fairlane, a 1958 Ford, a 1956 pickup, and a 1957 Chevrolet, among others.

He’s compelled to draw and he likes bringing to life with his pencil and paper these old places from his youth in Maries County. Maybe he thinks about them as they take form on his paper.

The next project on his list is the old MFA building in Vienna, which currently is being renovated by BFR Properties. His father owned the building in the 1980’s and had a flea market there and was the person to build the upstairs apartments in the building. As a youth Jerry remembers going to the MFA with his grandfather, Gene Doyel in the 1960’s. The men sat in chairs there, hanging out and talking, sharing local gossip. At the original building, he remembers how the farmers backed up their trucks to the building to get feed and fertilizer.

Another structure on his list of old buildings that need to be drawn before they are gone is the old MFA building in Belle. It’s near the railroad tracks in an area that may be developed in the future if the Rock Island Trail becomes reality. However, the Belle City Council voted to demolish the building. Jerry’s Belle cousins, Mindy Kinsey and Steve Honse provided him with some photos of it so he can record its history before it’s torn down and is gone forever.

Now that he’s retired, Jerry has time to devote to these drawings. He has a lot of them and plans to have a book printed. That way, many people can enjoy looking at his creative renditions of these county buildings that remain, and those that are forever gone, but still remembered.

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