How one of the oldest buildings in the Quad-Cities became the headquarters for the John Deere Classic | News – Local and National
The grounds at TPC Deere Run in Silvis were home to many families before becoming the home of the John Deere Classic.
The 385-acre property features the Stone House; one of the oldest buildings in Rock Island County. Now, the house is the headquarters for the John Deere Classic, but for many families over the years, it was home.
In 1838, the land was purchased by Erskine Wilson and his wife Sarah. It stretched so far, a ferry had to be taken to get from the side of the property in Rock Island County to the connecting piece in Henry County. Erskine purchased the land for $1 from the United States Government, just one year after John Deere began production in Grand Detour, Ill.
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Once word got around that Erskine had a ferry, Deere himself used it to take equipment from his headquarters down to Springfield. Erskine began building a stone home on the land, and in 1848, he built a barn that is still standing today.
Shortly after in 1852, Erskine died before the stone house could be finished. A local man, William Jameson, decided to take on the project and complete the build. Erskine’s widow, Sarah, was so touched by the gesture, she gave him 40 acres and named it the Friendship House.
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In 1928, the stone house, barn and land were sold off to William and Katherine Butterworth. William was the third president of John Deere and ended his career as the chairman. His dream was to build a golf course on the land, but little did he know, that project was 70 years down the line.
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The Butterworth’s lived on the land until 1953 when it was sold to John Deere’s granddaughter Patricia Wiman-Hewitt and her husband, William, who went on to be the CEO of John Deere from 1955-82. The couple began developing the land and named it Friendship Farm, where it became one of the top Arabian horse farms in the country.
After the couple died, their children decided to donate the land to be used by the public. The stipulations were simple: no houses were to be built on the property, and the natural setting must be preserved.
Work to build the course began in 1998 and it officially opened its doors in 2000, the same year John Deere became the official sponsor of the tournament. The lane leading up to the home has now been aptly named Friendship House Road.
From inside, staff have a view of not only the golf course, but the Rock River: the landmark that drew Erskine Wilson to the property 184 years ago.