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2019 Mauri Williamson Barn Preservation Grants Awarded

The Indiana Barn Foundation officially recognized the 2019 Mauri Williamson Barn Preservation Grant Fund recipients at its annual meeting in July. The Foundation annually awards two matching grants for $2500 each, obligating the recipients to match that amount from their own funds, funds from another source, or in-kind labor. This year, however, IBF announced grant awards for three recipients, since one applicant did not request funding for the full $2500 available.

Anna Chambliss received a grant for $2500, to continue with repairs on her family’s barn in Scottsburg, Indiana. Jessica House, of Ridgeville, whose barn is located in Economy, Indiana, received a grant for $1500, and Brian Carlson, from Ft. Wayne, (barn is in Chesterton), received $1000.

The Chambliss Barn

 

Anna Chambliss’ family moved to the farm where she lives when she was six, and she believes that the previous
owner constructed the barn around 1936 for the purpose of curing and storing tobacco. Anna’s son currently farms the property, and together they have been working in recent years to put the barn back in use.

 

The barn is transverse in style, with the primary openings on the gable end, a style often referred to as a Midwestern Barn, or Midwestern Three Portal Barn. Although constructed to assist with tobacco production, it is not a tobacco barn per se. Tobacco barns are two stories tall, long and rectangular in plan, and display an assortment of ventilation devices on the long elevations necessary for the curing of tobacco.

 

In order to return her barn to farm use, Anna and her son took the sagging and leaning barn and pulled the walls back together to straighten them. They also jacked up one side of the barn and completed foundation and siding repairs. A new floor was installed in the room that had been used to strip tobacco, and broken windows and a door were replaced. The grant application requested funds necessary to replace a failing roof that was pierced with countless holes, and once this work, estimated at just under $5000, is completed Anna and her son’s barn will be ready for many more years of service.

The House Barn

The Barn Foundation’s second grant recipient, Jessica House, has returned to the family farm in recent years to
not only help her parents with the chores, but to reestablish her grandfather’s farm as a permanent home for herself.
Together with her partner, Seth, Jessica purchased Grandpa’s 7.5 acres from an uncle. The purchase included a 19th century two-story farmhouse, a mobile home, a garage that was once a carriage house, a pond, and a large three-story bank barn. They have since undertaken major renovations to the mobile home, the house, and the property, and
established a camping business around the pond. Seth makes his living doing electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work, which has been indispensable to the makeover.

 

Remarkably, Jessica tells us that most of this work has been accomplished in the last 20 months! Now they have aspirations to renovate the milking barn, which is a bank barn in the English style, with a loft above. The barn has seen additions over the years, and like most barns, has suffered the wear and tear of work and weather. Her family used the barn for livestock and storage, but it was previously used as a milking facility. The concrete block milk house has partially caved in, and earlier alterations are also failing; much of the main entry has rotted away, and the support system has seen better days. Although the barn still stands tall, there are lots of areas that need attention, and Jessica and Seth are up to the task.

 

IBF was impressed by Jessica’s enthusiasm and can-do attitude: In her words, “We may not be professional carpenters or possess historical preservation knowledge, but we do possess the drive to revitalize this property so it may live to see another 100 years.” If the past 20 months is any indication, Jessica’s barn is about to get a facelift.

The Carlson Barn

Our third grant recipient is Brian Carlson, who has also been hard at work on his barn in Chesterton. Brian applied for last year’s grant round as well; so his perseverance paid off with his second try this year. The Carlson barn is part of the infrastructure of Ledgemere Farm, which is beautifully described in a history narrated by David Carlson, who lived on the property from 1906 until 2001, and typed by Mabel Carlson, who lived there from 1934 to 2009.

 

The 30’ by 50’ bank barn was constructed in 1916 during the tenure of David Carlson. The 12’ long board and batten siding is notable, and the large hayloft is wrapped in a gambrel roof. Brian and his family have been steadily making repairs to the barn’s foundation as well as other areas, and are now planning to complete the weatherproofing and animal proofing by finishing up work on the window and door openings. In the effort to prevent water infiltration—crucial to all barn preservation—Brian’s application requested just the $1000 it would take to replace two windows, a large door, and two smaller entry doors, as well as significant siding and batten replacement to further seal out the weather.

The Foundation’s Grant Committee felt it was important this year to support applicants who had already made significant progress toward rehabilitating their barns by adding that small additional money that could help them
complete their projects. This was certainly the example set by Anna and Brian. And although Jessica is only beginning
to attack her barn, her enthusiasm for her family’s farm legacy, as well as her capacity to bring her grandfather’s farm
back to life persuaded the committee to at least provide her with some incentive funds to begin the barn work.

 

IBF received 19 applications this year, about the same as last year, and our hope is to raise enough money in the
future to fund more than two or three projects a year, and hopefully to provide more money per project. In the last
decade or so we have lost nearly 30% of our state’s barns, which is much better than the national toll of 60%, but still
not good enough. That is the challenge we face. Join us.