DOWNERS GROVE — You wouldn't know it stepping into George and Lorraine Kirkland's Downers Grove house, but beneath their floorboards runs a steel beam.
The beam — a requirement from village officials when the house was going up six decades ago — is strong enough to support a few more stories, George said. They head underneath it every time there is a tornado warning.
Turns out, a strong foundation is also the key to their lasting marriage.
This week, George and Lorraine Kirkland are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary — with every one of those years spent in the house that George built himself.
"I moved in here as a bride," Lorraine said.
George and Lorraine were married on April 4, 1953. The July before, George and his father broke ground on their Prairie Avenue house when that street was still gravel and they could look across a field to Ogden Avenue from their front yard.
His father was a contractor, and George inherited building skills. Lorraine's father did the electrical wiring.
"We started from the foundation up," George said.
The two met when they were living in Berwyn. George was friends with Lorraine's brother, who was also named George. They fixed up old cars together — a hobby that George Kirkland still keeps up — until her brother moved out to California with his wife in the early 1950s.
"When they went out to California, he kept coming around," Lorraine said fondly.
Since then, they have raised two sons who went on to produce two grandchildren.
This week, the long-time couple will mark the anniversary — the diamond anniversary, according to the traditional gift guide — in low-key fashion. Their sons are traveling in with their families and they plan to recreate a family photo they took at the 50th anniversary.
When asked the secret of their long marriage, Lorraine doesn't hesitate. The couple, who for the last 60 years have attended the Lombard Gospel Chapel, look to faith for their foundation.
"We put God first in our lives," she said. "Glance at the circumstances, but focus on God."