As farming techniques changed, many barns fell into disuse and disrepair. During the farm crisis of the 1980’s many farmers were advised to tear down their barn (many built by their ancestors) and replace them with new pole barns and metal sheds to accommodate larger scale farming.
Barns began disappearing at an alarming rate. These losses awoke many people to the value of these barns’ traditional craftsmanship and role in America’s rural heritage. As barns were lost, so was a piece of history, and cultural ties to previous generations.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation formed “Barn Again!” in 1987, a program dedicated to the preservation of barns. They studied economical ways to adapt barns for new uses, and proved that newer is not always better. The program showed how traditional barns can be adapted for new farming uses ranging from dairy, hog, and cattle operations to machinery or grain storage. Barn preservation techniques have proven to be a cost-effective alternative to tearing down the old barn and putting up a new building.
If you have a barn you want to restore, relocate or repurpose, give us a call at 563-880-4627.
Various states have created organizations and funding to help support the preservation of barns. For information about possible state and federal tax credits, grants and loans, contact your local preservation organization, and/ or your state’s historic preservation office.
Few modern builders have the skill set necessary to disassemble, transport, and reassemble a traditional timber frame barn. The Iowa Barn Savers (are unique in that they) have developed meticulous systems and techniques for barn relocation, which they have refined and proven through many successful projects.
Sometimes to save a barn, the barn needs a new home and a new purpose.
Because the hand chiseled (crafted) joinery uses hard wood pegs rather than nails, a barn can be disassembled and re-assembled without harming or changing the structure.
The exposed large timbers, lofted trusses, and vaulted ceilings create a cathedral like setting. This type of construction is wonderful for barns, barn homes or a variety of uses.
Here are examples of ways in which heritage barns are being repurposed:
Agricultural: traditional farming uses such as horse stalls, storage of farm equipment, hay and grain, dairy and goat farming, and small scale farming.
Community: wedding and special events venue, dance hall, education center, visitor center, museum, or art gallery.
Commercial: farmer’s market, winery, brewery, garden center, or roadside market.
Residential: new barn home, addition to a home, guest-home, or gentlemen’s barn.
Whether restored on site, or relocated, these heritage barns are
each a unique treasure to be preserved for generations.