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Barn holds family memoriesBarn holds family memories

SLIDESHOW: Wallaces Farmer held the second contest for Iowa’s Most Beautiful Barn. The winner is in north-central Iowa, near Buffalo Center, and is owned by the Richter family.

Jennifer Carrico

November 17, 2023

7 Slides

The Richter barn has been cared for and restored to keep the family legacy alive. Built in 1912, it was used as a dairy barn for three generations, until the cows were sold in 2000. The barn is now used for storage and was selected as the winner of Wallaces Farmer’s second Iowa’s Most Beautiful Barn contest.

The big red barn was built by Herman and Augusta Richter in 1912. They bought the land from the people who had homesteaded it 10 years previous. Back then, it was used for the horses which were used in fields and the dairy cattle which were milked daily, according to Deanna Richter, granddaughter of the builders and current resident of the farm.

“This house was originally one room. It’s been added on to several times,” Deanna Richter says. “After our grandparents, two of our uncles lived here. My brother, Russ, bought the farm in 1972.” Deanna says he was thrilled they were willing to sell him the farm to keep it in the family. The land, which he purchased from the uncles, raised feed for the cattle. Russ Richter was also able to buy another farm to the north of theirs — and it has a red barn as well.

In 2000, Russ decided it was time to sell the dairy cows, as he couldn’t do the work himself any longer. Deanna and sister Darlene agreed he was a great dairyman who always took good care of his cows. “He’d say, ‘The cows were good tenants in the barn. I took care of them, and they took care of me.’ And they did,” Deanna adds. The sisters also have another brother Ronald, who lives in Texas.

Barn restored to give structure a future

In 2007, Russ decided to restore the barn to keep the family’s legacy alive. The block foundation was replaced with poured concrete foundation walls. At the same time, red siding was put on the outside, and the existing roof was replaced with a steel roof. The same restoration was done to the barn on the other farm.

To add some beauty to the barn, flower window boxes were added to each of the windows. The boxes are watered from the bottom and make the barn look attractive during spring and summer.

Russ passed away in 2022, but the sisters know he would have been thrilled to have won the contest. “When we entered, it was really for Russ. We know how happy he would be with this honor. Family is important, and the family farm is a legacy that has been with us for many years,” Deanna Richter adds.

Keeping the legacy of the farm and the barn is important to the Richter family. Russ Richter always thought every farm needed a barn. Even though it’s used for storage now, the milking equipment is still present. Deanna Richter says maybe someday livestock will be a part of the farm again. Mostly, they hope it will stay in the family for many years to come.

The Grimstad barn owned by Corbett Grimstad of Lansing, Iowa, placed second in the contest. Since this barn was built in 2020, it has had a very limited history of use, but it was constructed with history in mind and designed by studying old and new buildings. It is the home of the family’s goats, beef and dairy cows, and some barn cats.

Third place was awarded to the Hunt barn owned by Joe and Diane Hunt, near Marshalltown, Iowa. It was built in 1950 to replace another barn taken down in a windstorm. It was used for livestock and chickens through the early 1990s. After some restoration, it is now used to house the family’s farming equipment and is the site of get-togethers and events.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Carrico

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Jennifer lives on a farm near Redfield, Iowa, where she runs a small cow-calf operation with her family. A 20-plus year ag journalism veteran, Jennifer has covered a wide range of agriculture issues. A graduate of Iowa State University, she has worked for local daily papers and other agriculture publishers. She came to Wallaces Farmer from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. She enjoys writing, managing cattle, and hearing and telling farmer stories.

Jennifer has two children. Kassidy, 21, attends Black Hawk East College, but will transfer in the fall to Oklahoma State University. Son, Klayton, attends Panorama High School where he excels in academics, sports, FFA and 4-H.

“My favorite part of being an ag journalist is to tell the story of the farmer and rancher,” she says. “The farmer and rancher do the work to make the food, fiber and fuel for everyone. I want to use our online presence to broaden that message to those off the farm.”

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