A barn lover’s paradise

The Cupola Inn near Nora Springs, featured in Iowa Barns yesterday and today, is celebrating its 25th year as a bed and breakfast.

Two years ago owners Dale and Judy Mills wondered what to do with the many barn calendars they had saved. Dale decided to install them in a former shed, calling it a Barn EyeMax exhibit. See the entrance plaza below. A structural model barn, built by a friend, was given to them to exhibit.

Installed on the outside of an adjacent building is the Barnyard Art Gallery.

The entire exhibit is a barn lover’s paradise. Breakfast is served in a small round limestone barn constructed by the Mills family. (2022 photos)

The barn at Brooks

The best barn in Adams County in 1953, according to an ad for the sale of the property, was this one at the north edge of Brooks. It is still the finest barn, at least in Brooks. (2021 photo)

James and Mary Miles Flowers Dawson moved to this farm in 1870. Their sons, who were carpenters, built their large three-story home in 1903 and this barn in 1913. They also rode the train to Omaha daily for some years to work at Brandeis department store. 

The barn is original except for the four large windows installed many years ago for additional light. The long row of small windows on one end and two sets of double sliding doors, each with multiple windows, are unusual features. The loft is gigantic. The barn was in use until the late 1940s, but is now the current owners’ workshop.

The town of Brooks has had four names in its history. First it was Canaan City, then Brookville, then Simpson, named after Methodist Bishop Simpson when Brooks Seminary was established. At that time, the south section of town was still called Brookville, which was confusing, so in 1871 it became Brooks, its fourth and final name. The population is 40 today.

 The barn and home are remnants of the town’s history. The local public school, east of the barn, closed in 1968. The seminary, north of the barn, had a brief existence in 1859 before moving to Simpson College in Indianola.