Lesanville. Have you ever heard of it? The neighborhood was known by this name because of the many Lesan families who settled in the area. This view portrays the settlement today as seen from Highway 2 east of Mount Ayr. 

The Ramsey barn on the left, built in 1928, was in the process of getting a new roof in May 2021 when I happened to pass by the site. It has probably been re-shingled several times over the years but now has a new life for many years to come.

The Ramsey Farm Foundation, established in 2001, developed this site to portray rural life from the late 1800s to mid-1900s. Paul Ramsey fondly remembered his childhood summers here with Aunt Jennie and Uncle George. Prominent in real estate in California, he was instrumental in the development of this site.

The site has two barns, a chicken house, granary, church, school, general store, post office, three homes, and an event center. (See page 170 of Iowa Barns yesterday and today for more of the story of Lesanville.)

Carriage House

Rural chapel on White Pole Road. Since Milton Hollingsworth wanted to drive his carriage into the barn and not have supporting posts get in the way, the loft floor hung by iron rods from roof trusses above the loft, supported on posts within the exterior walls. Through doors on the south, north, or east sides he could enter, unhitch the horses, take them to the stalls on the west side, and leave the carriage positioned for its next use. 

Below left is a chute where grain was dropped from a storage bin located in the loft into a bucket placed below the chute, then taken to the feed troughs. On the right is an arched opening in each stall where hay was dropped into a feed box. 

How many carriage houses still exist in Iowa? No doubt many at one time, but not many today. This elegant 40-foot-square carriage house in Guthrie County, at the west edge of Stuart, was built in 1882. William Foster, a prominent Chicago architect, designed many Iowa and Nebraska buildings, including the State Penitentiary at Anamosa.

Pictured above are windows on the west side that provided a picturesque view for the horses. What a nice home they had. It is not in use now except to display barn history and photos of five generations of the Varley family with their Angus cattle. It’s a family treasure.

Barn Graffiti

If one is lucky enough to discover graffiti inside a barn, it can add to our knowledge of a barn’s history.

Wilson Prall settled in Franklin Township of Cass County in 1857 and had Richardson build a barn barn for him in 1877. (See name and date in small print on the right.) The evidence remained intact until a storm destroyed the barn on July 3, 1980.

John Housewert arrived in Penn Township of Madison County and established Hickory Grove Farm, adding a barn in 1880. The name and date was later painted by Rose Housewert and is a reminder of its heritage. It will become a Heritage Farm in 2030 (150 years in the same family).

Today it has steel siding and a steel roof that will last for decades. The address is 1162 Fawn Avenue, Earlham. It is owned by Mary Koboldt, a great-granddaughter of the builder, and her husband Bruce.