Set in Stone: Shimek Place


Little history remains of iconic house north of Cuba

By Cynthia Scheer
Telescope News

Very little is written about the “Shimek place.” Locals with connections to the stone house, which is located about three miles north of Cuba, know little about the property and refer questions to the 1975 limestone publication “Land of The Post Rock” by Grace Muilenburg and Ada Swineford. It is the only historical publication known to reference the
Shimek house.

According to the publication, J.J. Shimek hired stonemason Joe Baxa and a carpenter “named Hulka” to build the house in 1903. Baxa and Hulka were said to have learned their trades in Czechoslovakia. The two-story, twelve-room stone house was built of native limestone over a cellar and two stone-arch caves, the publication said. According to the book, the lightbuff stone with pale brown streaks was probably quarried from one of
the limestone beds associated with the

Fencepost limestone.

The late Edward W. Shulda once lived in the house. He sold the property to Ed and Barbara Popelka in 1969. The Popelkas, who live nearby, never lived in the house, but they rented it to Ralph and Helen West for a short time.

The house is now owned by the Popelkas’ son and daughter-inlaw, Mark and Michelle Popelka. According to Helen West, she and her family lived in the house for about a year and a half in the late 1970s. The house was empty for “a while” before they moved in, she recalled, and she did some painting and wall papering. “The house was so cold in the winter,” she said of her reason for moving out of the house. “We needed to find another place where we wouldn’t freeze to death.”

Her family was the last to live in the stone house. The home featured a front yard that West described as “pretty nice,” but a tornado in 2001 damaged nearly everything except the stone house.

The house now sits alone along a crop field. If anyone knows further information or stories about this house or other limestone landmarks in Republic County, call 785-527- 2244 or email