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Iowa Barn Foundation Announces Historic Barn Tour June 12 & 13Iowa Barn Foundation Announces Historic Barn Tour June 12 & 13

Southwest Iowa barns to be highlighted on this year's spring tour, which is free and the public is invited to attend.

May 11, 2010

6 Min Read

The public is invited to attend the 2010 spring tour of historic barns, sponsored by the Iowa Barn Foundation. Historic barns in southwest Iowa, some which are located in what is known as the "forgotten corner" of Iowa, will be open on this year's tour. It will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The tour, dedicated to the preservation of Iowa's barns, is free and open to anyone who is interested. This is a "drive yourself tour," says Jacqueline Andre Schmeal, spokesperson for the foundation.


The Iowa Barn Foundation is an all-state, all-volunteer, non-profit group dedicated to preserving Iowa's rural heritage. The group, founded in 1997, has raised private funds in order to give 113 matching grants to Iowa property owners for the restoration of historic barns. This amount totals almost a million dollars which means, with the owners' match, almost two million dollars has gone into the rehabilitation of Iowa's barns.

10 barns on this year's tour--and the annual picnic will be Sunday

A highlight of the 2010 weekend barn tour will be a picnic on Sunday noon at the lovely Loess Hills farm of Jim and Shelda Baylor, near Thurman, Iowa.

On the property is a horse barn built by the family in the 1890s. In the late 1920s, Jim' father had another barn built. Jim remembered, "My father told me once that when he went to school one morning there was no barn, but on his return, there it was.  Well, not in its finished condition, but the sides raised with these poles that are today lying up in the loft." 

There are 10 barns scheduled to be on this spring's tour. Some of the barns on tour are aged and vulnerable, but they are historic and of interest. They all have stories to tell. The barns include:  

* Baylor Barn--816 Bluff Road near Thurman, Iowa (two miles south of Thurman lying across the west face of the Loess Hills. Thurman is two miles east of Exit 20 on I-29). The Baylor barn was built in the early 1890s by a crew under the ownership of Ransdell Baylor, who was born in 1850. It is mortised and pegged —the poles used in raising are still lying in the loft. This barn is 40 x 60 feet and built for horses. The barn has been beautifully maintained through the years.

* Geiger Barn--1466 Bluff Road, also near Thurman (barn is beside a blacktop road one mile north of Thurman). The barn was built in the 1870s by Blanks Moody Baldwin from native walnut using wooden pegs and limestone boulders for the foundation.  At one time horse races were held on a dirt track across the road. People gathered to attend the races and watch the owner's horse, Pluto, run. The barn was originally painted yellow and is now red. The barn has weathered two tornadoes and is without its cupola and weather vane. This barn is a major area landmark.

* Birkby Barn-- 2944 Bluff Road, Thurman, Iowa 51654 (From I-29, take the Persival exit (No. 15) and go east four miles on 200th Street (J26) which is gravel.) Turn south on Bluff Road (Blacktop  L44) and go two miles to 2944 Bluff Road. The barn was built about 1870 as a basement horse barn with the stalls in the basement and grain bins and small equipment storage on second floor and hay mows overhead. Three fourths of the original brick foundation was replaced in the 1920s and is vulnerable. The barn was also damaged by a tornado in 1948 and rebuilt keeping original bins and stalls in place.

* Lake Nursery Barn-- On Evergreen Street at Shenandoah, Iowa (coming from the north on Highway 18 or US 59, go east on East Ferguson to Argus Road. Turn south until the road "T"s into East Carter which becomes Evergreen. Turn east, and you'll see cemetery and the barn.) 

This barn, built in 1870, is important to Iowa's horticultural history. D.S. Lake moved to the area about 1870 from New Hampshire—coming via river boat through St. Louis, Missouri and then by horseback. Lake brought with him fruit stock from New Hampshire which was used when he started the Lake Nursery. The barn was one of the first built in Shenandoah. Later area nurseries were influenced by Lake. The barn, now vulnerable, is owned by the Greater Shenandoah Historic Society which hopes to restore it. The nearby cemetery was given by the Lake family.

* Hodde Barn--2993 250th Avenue at Hamburg, Iowa (take Hamburg exit off of I 29 and go west on J 64 for 2.5 miles and then north one mile on L40.) The 100-year-old farm was purchased by Fred Hodde after saving money earned from helping people pick corn by hand. The farm has been home to Hoddes since then. It is believed the barn was built in the early 1900s.

* Shirley Barn--2442 Bluff Road, also at Hamburg, (take Highway 2 exit off of I 29. Travel east 4.5 miles to "blacktop"—L44.  Go north one mile.) The Shirley family has been in Fremont County since 1858. They bought their land about 1860. The barn was built by the family about 1940.

* Kochersperger and Allen Barn-- 64094 US 59, Emerson (the barn is four miles south of Emerson and 14 miles north of Shenandoah.) This small, lovingly kept barn sits on beautiful land that has been in the family since 1870.  This beautiful area is indeed a hidden Iowa treasure.

* White Barn—Located near the tiny town of Kent in Union County, to see this barn, you take Highway 34 to Clover Avenue and go south 3.5 miles to the barn.  A wonderfully nostalgic farm, with this 160 x 90-foot barn and an extensive corn crib, this is another Iowa treasure. The barn reveals particularly good craftsmanship.

* Nims Barn—At the Montgomery County Historic Society Center, near Red Oak.  (From Highway 34, go north three blocks on north 4th Street past the SW Community College Building to the T. with Ratliff Road.  Turn right.) The barn was built in 1884 and actually moved to this site.  The historic society has been very active in preservation in the area and exemplifies what a community can do working together.

* Taylor County Round Barn--at Bedford is at the intersection of highways 2 and 148)  This National Register barn, built in 1907, was disassembled from a farm 20 miles away, moved to this location and restored. This restoration has been a community effort.

The price of the lunch, which will feature beef au jus, catered by James' Country Store in the tiny town of Tabor, is only $9. If you want to eat lunch, please send checks made out to the Iowa Barn Foundation to Kelly Roberson, 2631 Ridge Road, Des Moines 50312 4417. For other questions phone 515-778-3798.

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