The Field of Dreams!
When in Dyersville, Iowa for the National Farm Toy Show, I told Keith that I had heard that the Field of Dreams had been updated. While he was too busy looking at toys to leave, I was not. Like Ray, I followed the story. I wanted to see just what was happening in this former Iowa cornfield. The big deal for me is that now you can tour the house!
The House Tour
I got there just in time for the house tour, and I was the only one. Libby, my young guide asked me to wear shoe covers and away we went. “The Field of Dreams was filmed in 1988 and released in 1989 on April 29,” she shared.
The farmhouse was built in 1906. Universal Studios producers were looking for a site for Field of Dreams. Libby said they had two criteria, 1) corn, and 2) a long lane.
Don Lansing was a farmer and a bachelor living on the farm at the time. “The film didn’t have to be in Iowa,” Libby said, “but Sue Rydell from Dubuque found this house. She sent it to Phil Alden Robinson.”
She shared, “When he came over the top of the hill, it is said that he screamed, I want to film here!”
Don Lansing’s story
What amazes me about this whole story, is that Don Lansing was just home and the movie people literally knocked on his door. They asked if they could film the movie there. He said “yes”. The farm wash in the Lansing family for 100 years. Don and his sisters were born on the farm. He had to move out and live in a trailer during the filming.
Libby said that in 1995, Don met his now wife Becky. She was on a bus trip visiting the Field of Dreams! “He proposed on 1st base.”
The couple ran the property for several years. Libby said they felt it was getting to be too much. They decided to sell it to the right person. That happened to be Denise Stillman from the Chicago area. She had a business called “Go The Distance Baseball”. The Lansings sold the Field of Dreams to them in 2012. The sale included the house.
“Once Denise came she knew people wanted house tours,” Libby added. “They had to make it as close to the movie set as possible.”
Don and his wife Becky bought a house in Dyersville. They live there today. Libby said her grandparents know the Lansings, and that everyone in town claims a part of Field of Dreams.
Inside the house
The Stillmans moved forward placing the house back to the film era. One Lansing family item has remained. “The yellow cake tin belonged to Don’s grandma. It was here during the filming.
To make the kitchen the correct period, Universal bought a neat Kelvinator stove. The stove has stayed in the kitchen the last 32 years. The countertops are still original. Libby walked me through the house sharing scenes from the show. She told me what changes were made for it to be correct for the period. The house the baseball memorabilia is very cool. However, it is the story of the Lansing family, and the people that took over that fascinates me.
Denise Stillman and her legacy
Sadly I learned that Denise Stillman had a rare form of liver cancer. She passed away at the very young age of 46 in 2018. Her husband now carries on the business. Denise shared her wishes. These include making the Field of Dreams a Midwest baseball destination for kids tournaments and other fun outdoor activities. This past August a professional game between the White Sox and the Cardinals was scheduled. It was cancelled due to COVID-19, but Libby said they hope to reschedule in 2021.
There are a group of players that Libby called the “Ghost Players” . They were the professionals that were on the field during the movie. The Ghost Players do shows at Field of Dreams on Sundays. “They have taken the show on the road and work with under privileged kids. Bringing supplies they teach them how to play.”
Libby told a lot of stories about the cast that and locals that made the tour special. Most everything was filmed locally. Boston scenes were filmed in nearby Galena, and a few scenes filmed in downtown Dubuque!
I learned that you can stay in the house and rent it out. You can rent out the ball field as well!
Best of all, after your tour, the guide will take you picture on the swing on the front porch! A chance to make memories of your own.
Walk around the field and reading material
I enjoyed walking the field and taking a gander at home plate. I cannot ever lay claim to any athletics on the ball field. However, I spent a lot of time watching my sister and kids over the years! The whole theme and story behind the “Build it and they will come” is intriguing and made this fun.”
There is a shop where they also sell memorabilia and a snack shop. I walked through, but didn’t purchase anything. The house was my main interest. That and the information placards. They tell this unique story in the middle of a farmer’s field. For Don Lansing, he was just home, they built it, and they did come!