Cupolas or ventilators? Either name will do

What do you call these functional things on top of barns? Cupolas or ventilators? Either one will do and they are often used synonymously.

In early days a cupola was the “icing on the cake,” located at the top of the most important building on the farm. They were originally made of wood and were square, round, or multisided, designed with the purpose of allowing heat and moisture to escape.

What about ventilators? The Louden Machinery Company in Fairfield, Iowa wanted to capitalize on the cupola concept. They claimed that wooden cupolas wouldn’t last forever, but their new metal ventilators were superior. They were advertised as being storm proof, bird proof, and meant to last a lifetime. 

They called their Louden metal ventilator a cupola. What an idea! Marketing is everything! Often these ventilators included artistic designs stamped in the metal and incorporated a weather vane topped with a horse, cow, or pig. Here are a few examples of cupolas and ventilators. Besides serving a useful function, they add character and interest to barns.