Farm Horizons, May 2008

Historic round barn to be moved

Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

A historic round barn from St. Michael might be moved to a site just east of Kingston.

The move of the round barn, which is slated for demolition in September if it stays in St. Michael, will cost $275,000.

The round barn, built in the early 1900s, is one of 62 round barns in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. To preserve the barn, the Prairie Country Resource Conservation and Development Council is sponsoring the project to move the barn to the farm of Linda and Richard Stewart, east of Kingston, at 73291 Meeker County State Aid Highway 27.

There, the round barn will be used as an agricultural education center and gathering site for public and private use.

“The round barn has been meticulously cared for by the Richard and Ronald Lenneman family since 1914,” Linda Stewart said.

The round barn, about 60 feet tall and 64 feet wide, was used for dairy farming until 2006, when the farm land in the St. Michael area was sold to a developer. The barn is made of wood with a stone foundation and has a completely self-supported roof without interior trusses or silo, according to the proposal application.

When it is moved, the round barn will be cut into nine large pieces, and loaded onto semi-trucks. Larry Stubbs of Stubbs Building Movers of Long Lake, is contracted to do the moving of the nine pieces.

A new foundation will be built for the round barn at the Stewart’s farm site, Hand ‘N’ Home Farm, where they obtained a bed and breakfast license as of Feb. 18. The Stewarts raise chemical-free vegetables using antique farm equipment, according to the proposal.

The barn will be put back together like a puzzle. The project’s architect will be Michael Knisely of Distyle Design of Golden Valley. Structural engineer is Rob Hutchinson of Innovative Structural Solutions of Albertville. The concrete contractor will be Dan Lipinski of Lipinski Concrete of Buffalo.

The roof and paint on the round barn will be upgraded once it is moved to Kingston.

But first, the project needs $300,000 for the move. Donations can be made to: Save the Round Barn, Farmers State Bank of Darwin, PO Box 128, Darwin, MN 55324. Only a few thousands of dollars have been raised so far, Stewart said.

The round barn will be used to display antique equipment and for educational tours about farming in the past. It also can be used as a site for private events, such as weddings and receptions, according to the proposal.

Why build a round barn?

Round barns have a long history in America, according to Voice of America Radio’s agriculture report. Even our first US president, George Washington, had a round barn in the 1700s. Then in the early 1900s, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign built three round barns that a lot of farmers copied.

Farmers believed building a round barn was less expensive because it took less wood and stone. Round barns also saved steps and time in feeding animals from the center of the barn. Many designs had a large area in the middle for hay and feed stands. Round barns were less drafty because there were no flat walls to catch the wind. Farmers also thought having no flat walls made round barns safer in wind storms, according to the report.

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