Contributed by: Shannon Bellis
When Phillip and Karen Pritzker got married 30 years ago, they never dreamed they would be presented with the opportunity to build on Karen’s grandfather’s land as soon as they did. A retirement dream became their reality, and land that had been in the family for 100 plus years was now a part of their story—a story rooted in family heritage and a desire and passion for service.
Catty-corner from the new Pritzker stable sits the old farm house that Karen’s grandfather, father, and brother built, and the dairy barn where many cows were milked over the years. Inside the barn, there are names of all the cows and calves written on 2 X 4’s by Karen’s grandfather. “He knew what heifers gave birth to which calf all by the information written on the barn walls,” Phillip said.
“It is awesome,” said Karen when asked how it felt to build a barn on land with so much history. “There’s a lot of sentimental value out here.” When Phillip and Karen were newlyweds, Karen’s grandfather asked if they wanted to buy a piece of the 200 acres he farmed. “But we were so dirt poor, living paycheck to paycheck, and we knew we couldn’t buy it,” Phillip said. But something stirred within them. Could we buy land here? Would that ever be possible?
It became their dream: to one day own a piece of land where family roots ran deep.
Their journey wasn’t always a straight path to get to where they are today. With the encouragement of Karen’s parents, their dream came sooner than they imagined, immediately selling their house in a different town, renting another home temporarily, and building their dream house…and their dream barn.
“I started looking for barns and we found AmeriStall, and we really enjoyed the product,” Karen said. They considered other barn builders in the area, including barns with wood frames. “We came back to AmeriStall, and met Dan and we never left again,” she said.
“I wanted easy maintenance,” Phillip said while discussing how they chose AmeriStall as their final choice to build their dream horse barn. “At some point with wood, you’re going to have to repaint it, caulk it and maintain it, and I didn’t really want to have to mess with that.”
They also enjoyed being able to see the different options that AmeriStall offered for the design. “With everybody else, they would tell us their options, but you couldn’t actually see them,” Karen said. “We are just so visual that we would not have had any idea what would have looked good unless we saw it.” From Dutch doors, an awning, glass inserts on the front doors, insulation, and even a window in the tack room, Phillip and Karen customized their 36 X 36 Raised Center Aisle Horse Barn to fit their equestrian dreams. “Our barn is just beautiful,” Karen said.
Dan Seitz, a project manager with AmeriStall, walked the Pritzkers through the entire process— from helping design the barn and choose which options would best suit their lifestyle, to ensuring the project was completed to perfection. “We felt special,” Karen said. “We were taken care of from the get-go. If I needed something, I could just call Dan. The whole process was great.” Dan even connected the Pritzkers with the plumber and electrician to finish out their space.
“They took pride in what they were doing and it showed,” Karen said while referring to the construction crew that erected the barn. Phillip commented on how clean the crew left the worksite. “Honestly, we could have left the horses out there and they would have been fine,” he said. “I think there’s just some heart in there and you don’t get that all of the time. They truly cared, and wanted our building to be perfect for us,” Karen said.
“We got what we paid for,” Phillip said. “We paid for excellence, and we got it.”
The Pritzker family is one-of-a-kind with hearts the size of Texas. Phillip and Karen are excited to have a beautiful barn but want to share their new building with others. Their dream now is to use their barn to serve.
“I have a dream to do ‘Equest’ for handicapped and disabled children,” Karen said. It’s our ten-year goal to use our barn for a therapeutic riding facility, she said. “My plan this summer is to go volunteer at a therapeutic riding barn to learn more about what they do and see what it’s all about.” If somebody already has an established program and is needing an alternative location, that might be an option for us, as well. We want to use our barn to bless others, she said.And they’ve already been presented with the opportunity to serve in such a capacity.
Phillip works in home health for elderly patients. There is an older farmer in one of the assisted living facilities who used to work with cattle and horses, and the director of the center asked if he could bring him and other patients out to the Pritzker Stable to be around the animals as a therapeutic outing. “I’d love for them to come out here and do that,” Phillip said. They plan on hosting patients in the near future.