On Hatteberg's People, McPherson has a beloved Opera House built in 1889 that is currently undergoing renovation. While many are taking part in its restoration, Harold Schlender has made the restoration project his life for the past 14 years. His work not only benefits the community, but has been a therapy of sorts for Harold.
"What we've done so far, I tell ya, it's been a joy to do it."
Working deep in the bowels of the McPherson Opera House, Harold Schlender is a modest man, but a man who knows what real work is.
"The whole building is satisfaction; restoration is what we call it."
And it is the restoration of this old building that Harold loves. The McPherson Opera House, now nearly 120 years old, was saved from the wrecking ball by McPherson residents who couldn't bare to see it become a parking lot.
'It takes a lot of upkeep but its worth every penny that we put into it."
Harold has spent the last 14 years of his life helping to make this building a reality for the community. Parts of the building have been restored -- but it is this stage, the heart of the opera house where the famous spoke like William Jennings Bryan...and where hundreds of plays and operas came to life. Harold Schlender is in the shadows of history but has become the light of the project.
"The closer we get to being done, the happier I get."
He knows every part of this piece of history. You might say he lives it...but there was another reason why he volunteered his time...It was his therapy.
"Having this work to do was a great relief for me."
His wife Charlotte was ill with Alzheimer's and his life was also caring for her.
"When I stayed home with her for a year and a half to two years, I worked in my garage so I could be close to her."
"Then of course after she was gone, I just devoted my full time to the work I had here and really there was no end to it."
And Harold continues his therapy here…among the mortar and the bricks.
"I've been a little antsy about getting it done really, but I can see the end."