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The Rustic Rock Cottage

Photo by Shari Harris
Trish Kissiar-Knight has created an inviting place for lodgers to stay at her Rustic Rock Cottage.

Photo submitted
Before renovation.

Photo by Shari Harris
After renovation.

Photo submitted
This treacherous staircase was the first obstacle Knight had to overcome to explore the overgrown structure.

Photo by Shari Harris
An inviting rock cottage.

Photo submitted
Access was previously nearly impossible.

By Shari Harris, Managing Editor

A true discovery was made in the center of Licking when Trish Kissiar-Knight was helping her father at his lot on North Main Street. A building that had been there all her life, hidden by the Ford garage for decades, caught her attention. Like many, Knight had never noticed the building, a two story structure behind the Peters Building. The unique rock structure peeked from the weeds, begging for exploration.

She navigated a treacherous flight of rotted, overgrown stairs on the back of the building, which was the only access to where a second floor apartment had been. The condition of the interior would have turned many away. The roof had holes in it, and the top floor had collapsed into the garage, which had comprised the lower floor, preventing the garage door from opening more than three feet. But Knight had a vision of what could be.

“Saving an old building has always been on my bucket list,” she explained.

Knight did most of the demolition herself, but had help from son Ben Knight, Bo Hood, and an Amish construction crew. By the time everything was removed that couldn’t be salvaged, they were down to the bare rock walls. The construction crew removed the roof and cautiously removed the old framing, with no one completely sure the rock would stand. But they did stand, and what beautiful rock walls they were, complete with hooks along the outside (for what purpose Knight is still unsure) and Claude Peters 1956 etched in stone on the east side of the building.

Knight’s father, Wesley Kissiar, contributed materials from an old barn, providing lumber and tin for the rebuild. The Amish construction crew reframed the structure, put in a subfloor and built a new roof. Because of notches in the top of the walls, the trusses had to be built onsite. Knight called in more members of the community to assist with the project, and Chris Haneline helped with general contracting, a challenge with an older building which was not quite square.

Mike Wilson fully replumbed the structure, and Brian and David Barker provided the wiring. Haneline did the interior metal work (barn tin is used in multiple places throughout the building) and placed the white shiplap in the living room. HEI handled the heating and cooling, while the McHollands made cabinets. Lanny Cline did the flooring, and Mason Creech was in charge of windows, doors, and the exterior concrete work, providing sidewalks and patios. Friend Lumber was the source for many of the materials used in the project. Ben Knight was very involved with the rebuild, including, among other things, replacing the exterior second story deck, building an interior staircase to the second floor, adding a stair rail, hanging doors, framing windows, placing the metal chair rail and making bases for the bathroom sinks.

Trish Knight was just as instrumental in the rebuild as she had been in the demolition. She polyurethaned, painted or varnished every piece of wood used in the interior, as well as overseeing the project and keeping her vision alive of what could be.

From the tongue and groove wall along the staircase, salvaged from an addition that was removed from the back of the old Peters Building, to the ridge cap from the barn used on the interior of the upstairs ceiling, unique touches can be seen throughout the building. Designing her new creation continued after all the other crews went home, and Knight used her skills to remake the garage/second story apartment into an airbnb lodging. Modern touches such as high speed internet and a keypad entry, allowing Knight to change the combination of numbers for each new lodger, blend well with her warm decorating style. The end result is a comfortable, efficient apartment appropriate for everyone from the business professional to those visiting family for the weekend.

The exterior of the building has also been transformed. To those who never noticed the overgrown structure before, catching a first sight of it now can leave one in disbelief that they had overlooked it. The unique rock walls, decorative foliage and patios are inviting, and the Peters Building to the east increases the privacy of the front patio. The tucked away location of the building makes it somewhat of a hideaway, right in the center of town.

When asked what is next, Knight says it will be a bit, but she has plans for the larger Peters Building in front of her Rustic Rock Cottage. She would like to see the building also converted into lodging, with sleeping quarters upstairs and a common area, including a recreation room and kitchen, downstairs. If the Peters Building benefits from Knight’s skills as much as the smaller rock structure which was hidden behind it, those visiting Licking will have lodging choices that are a destination of their own.

Knight is interested in finding more history on both of the buildings. From what she has learned thus far, work began on December 16, 1938, by Lynn (Len) Wilson, on what became the Wilson & DeForest Building, built by Wilson and Virgil DeForest (later known as the Peters Building). It was first used as a service station. Charley and Nell Buckner had a restaurant in one side of the building. Evans Funeral Home rented the building for a funeral home for a year, beginning in September 1943. Prior to and following that, from 1940-1943, and returning in 1944, Dr. H. E. Williams used the building as a doctor’s office. The sign on the front of the building indicates Claude and Ida Peters owned the building beginning in 1947. Claude sold liquor, guns and ammunition, and Ida had an antique store. Cleve Osborne is reputed to have done the rockwork on both the Peters Building and the rock building behind it which has recently been transformed into the Rustic Rock Cottage.

If you would like to see photos of the interior and book lodging, look on airbnb for The Rustic Rock Cottage in Licking, Mo. See for yourself the amazing transformation of a forgotten structure to one that will be hard to forget. If you have more history information or would like to speak to Trish Knight about booking the cottage, you may reach her at 417-274-3925.


  1. Wendy ward on October 19, 2023 at 2:51 pm

    Wow, Trish, AMAZING job. 😊

  2. Teresa Edgerton on October 19, 2023 at 10:05 pm

    The outside looks great! I’d love to see the inside. Its so nice to see buildings saved and given a face lift,💖

  3. Coy Ward on October 20, 2023 at 6:51 am

    Hi Trish,
    Very proud to know you and to have attended school with you (We won’t say how long ago, LOL). You’re vision for the old buildings in Licking is a great conquest and you are a conqueror, for sure. Keep it up. The Rustic Rock Cottage looks amazing. Would love to book a stay next time I come to Licking to visit with family and friends. Love n Blessings to you and your family Trish

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