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Kansans and their barns

Agriculture.com Staff 11/04/2008 @ 1:09pm

No place has needed sturdy barns more than Kansas. They've stood on the front line against nature's best assaults: steady winds, whiteout blizzards, and the occasional tornado.

The Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) is helping preserve those barns and bring them the historic recognition they deserve. Through a survey in the past two years, they've cataloged over 350 historic barns of various building styles across the state. At least five of them may get listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and they all will help tell the history of barns in Kansas.

"We hope this will make it easier for other owners to get their barns listed," says Patrick Zollner, director of the cultural resources division of KSHS. "When owners come to us, we can now help them classify their barn by type and historical context."

For instance, the barn above is a classic prairie-style barn, built in 1917, and is now owned by Leon and Norma Hahn of Gypsum, Kansas.

"When I was a kid, we didn't own this farm, but I helped put hay in the barn, and I always thought it would be neat to own," says Leon. "When I got a chance to buy it, I did. I just love that barn. I couldn't stand to see it deteriorate." To prove it, he's restored the rock foundation and brush-painted it three times.

Norma says that on road trips, they sometimes make spur-of-the-moment stops for Leon to have a close-up look at unique barns.

No place has needed sturdy barns more than Kansas. They've stood on the front line against nature's best assaults: steady winds, whiteout blizzards, and the occasional tornado.

This three-level limestone barn is owned by Charles and Debi Taylor of Lawrence, Kansas. Built in 1879 as a mule barn, the interior hand-hewn timbers (walnut, hickory, and sycamore) are as good as new. A tornado swept by a few days before these photos were taken, damaging the roof.

Kansas twisters have played a lead role in the life of this double-wing dairy barn on the Harlan Janke farm near Chapman, Kansas. Built in the 1940s, it took major tornado hits in 1949 and again in 1969.

Says Lloyd Olson about old barns: "I wish people would either tear them down or fix them up." He's taken the latter approach with his barn at Morganville, Kansas.

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