For more than six decades, Bill Haas has been creating carpentry masterpieces.
A retired carpenter and business owner, Haas enjoys re-creating history through his craft. Though he spent his professional career building homes and other constructions, and even many of his “for fun” buildings are life-size (including a church, a covered bridge, a log cabin and a replica of the one-room Pioneer Schoolhouse he attended as a child), several of his creations are to-scale tabletop models. He has re-created his family’s German-style barn, his wife’s family’s Dutch-style barn, and other relics of the past.
Preserving local history
“I just love doing this,” Haas says. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, but bigger buildings. Now I can’t climb, so I’ve got to make smaller. This has always been my dream — to preserve the history of the area.”
Most recently, Haas has constructed a to-scale model of the World’s Largest Round Barn in Marshfield, Wis., in honor of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, which is taking place in his native Wood County this July.
“Bill some years ago had spent a Sunday afternoon at the Upham House in Marshfield,” his wife, Judy, says. “They had the original blueprints of the round barn, from which he got some information and drew up some drawings of his own.”
Inspired by Farm Technology Days coming to his home county this July, earlier this year Haas visited the barn to take photos and measurements.
“If I just looked at a blueprint, I couldn’t fathom how they did this,” he says. “By going in there and measuring everything and looking at it is the way I could understand.”
The original barn is 150 feet across by 70 feet high. The replica is a quarter inch to the foot.
On Jan. 14, Haas made the first cut, a circle that would be the foundation for the miniature round barn. During the cold winter months, he spent hours in his workshop and made several trips to the Central Wisconsin Fairgrounds to take more photos and measurements of the real barn. Various family members helped at different stages of the construction, assisting with measurements, painting and other tasks.
Patience pays off
After more than 500 hours of work, Haas’ patience and dedication paid off with a beautiful recreation of Marshfield’s historic landmark.
“It was a challenge,” Haas says. “It’s harder to make things round than it is square. I’m used to building things square.”
Working from photos that his wife took inside the real round barn, Haas constructed his model barn in layers, starting with a plywood base and working his way up to the cupola. Using a “story pole,” a piece of lumber that worked as a guide, Haas knew how high each level of the barn needed to be and could track if he was meeting the right measurements.
Throughout construction, Haas marveled at the work of those a century before him who designed and constructed the full-size round barn.
“You have got to stand and study how they put this together, because it’s unique how they did this,” he says. “It’s amazing. You have got to put it together to appreciate how they did it. This is put together exactly the way they did it. I can see how they would have done it. One piece at a time, working their way up.”
Along with helping to keep the past alive and recognizing the importance of this local landmark, Haas hopes his model helps residents relive fond memories of fairs gone by.
“People have seen it who have memories of when they used to take cattle up there,” he says. “They appreciate it because they remember it from when they were kids.”
He also hopes that by seeing the model barn and the complexity of it, visitors to the full-size barn can experience a renewed appreciation for its construction.
“It was a fun project,” he says. “It’s a miracle it turned out the way it did.”
Haas calls his creation the “World’s Smallest World’s Largest Round Barn.” The model will be on display at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, July 10-12 near Marshfield in Wood County. See a video of Haas’ barn on YouTube.
Source: Wisconsin Farm Technology Days