Allerton’s historic barn

A round barn, train, and an early era home are pictured on this mural at Allerton, a small town in Wayne County platted in 1870. The train service that began in March 1871, ended in 1970, although a Union Pacific line passes through the town today.

George Fennell’s 50-ft diameter board and batten round barn, pictured in the mural, was built in 1912 by Ed Nelson and was a dairy barn for eight cows. It features a spider-web design, enabling the loft to be free of support beams. It was painted white by the original owner, even though the cost of painting a barn white in early times far exceeded the cost of painting it red. 

Over the years it had several owners and was the home for various livestock before the 93-acre farm was purchased by a local group intent on preserving the barn. In 1991 it became the International Center for Rural Culture and Art, Inc. On this site are the barn, as well as an 1897 Queen Anne house, 1887 church, and 1869 school. The house, church, and school were moved to the site and restored. It is a great addition to Wayne County, now used by the community for various events. Check their website for open hours in the summer.

A barn giant

What a barn! Four stories, two wings, numerous windows, and a brick silo. The location is in Wapello County at 9225/9227 74th St., Ottumwa, suddenly visible on a hilltop after driving along a winding forested road.

When Keeley Paris bought this 200-acre farm, he acquired an incredible barn, once a masterpiece but almost in ruins. The history of the barn is sketchy, but was built in the mid to late 1800s.

Above is a photo before he began the extensive restoration work on this former dairy barn. On the right side on the lower level were milking stanchions, with hay storage above. On the left side on the lower level were stalls for the cattle, with the upper level left open.

Adaptations have no doubt been made through the years. The photo below shows the back side with a hay door, since there is no hay door on the front side. The door below the hay door has probably been revised at some period because this would have been the feed entrance, not possible today with the current configuration of the door and window.

A study to analyze this barn and discover amazing aspects during its lifetime was a big project. The brick silo is most unusual, since silos of this type are usually clay tile, not brick. It appears that some of the bricks have been recycled from other uses. Also, the tiny pebbles of gravel in the concrete make it even more unusual.

Restoring the structure was truly a labor of love. Paris received a sizable grant from the Iowa Barn Foundation to help with this huge restoration project. The previous owner raised peacocks, and Paris is now raising goats that have plenty of room to roam. He no doubt has bigger plans in mind in the future for this most unusual and amazing barn. Time will tell. (2023 photos)

Winter Greetings

Winter has barely arrived, considering there have been below-average snowfall and above normal temperatures. This pig family is headed somewhere, maybe to warmer places or maybe just home in a nearby barn, as pictured on this early greeting card. Have a Happy New Year and enjoy whatever winter brings to your neighborhood.

Hogs are a big business in Iowa. In September 2023 there were 24.4 million hogs and pigs, about 2½ times as many as in Minnesota, the No. 2 state. Some of these pigs are “show pigs”, such as those raised on this farm in Mills County, utilizing an early 20th century barn designed by the Gordon-Van Tine Company based in Davenport. Raised under strict sanitary conditions, “show pigs” are sold in other states or bought on-site for 4-H projects, county and state fair entries, or other youth projects, when they weigh about 40 pounds.