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Barns and Other Outbuildings on Indiana Farms

In 1975, the Indiana Junior Historical Society published a representative survey of Indiana barns. The booklet in its entirety is available as an online pdf document below. The document contains photographs and details of over 150 barns scattered throughout several Indiana counties and provides a glimpse of what the rural Indiana landscape looked like almost 50 years ago. Sadly, it is doubtful that many of these barns exist today. But fortunately, the junior historians that participated in this project had the foresight to provide documentation for future generations.

From the introduction:

"Many years ago a writer made this comment: "An English­man first builds his manor house, and later his stables; a German first builds his barn, and, with what is left over, ·a shelter for the family; the American builds first his garage, and has no further use for either house or barn," Believing that there might be a grain of truth in this facetious remark, the Indiana Junior Historical Society in the summers of 1973 and 1974 made a survey of farm buildings in four representative sections of the state: DeKalb County in the northeast, Benton County in the northwest, Henry County in the central, and Scott and Jefferson counties in the southeast. The survey was a cooperative effort with the Society of Indiana Pioneers. 

In the northeast dairying is the predominant agricultural pursuit. In the northwest grain and livestock raising is characteristic. The central portion is the area of general farming, given to the raising of corn and hogs and some little production of beef. To the southeast tobacco becomes an important crop in a program of general farming. Differences in types of farming resulted in differences in barns and other buildings on the farm. The barns in the dairy sections had to provide storage for a vast amount of hay, as well as a milkshed. The farmer in the northwest needed a barn to house the work animals and to provide storage for a supply of hay and cribs for a large amount of corn. The cen­tral Indiana barn needed stabling for the workhorses and their feed and also for a few milk cows as well as shed space for farm implements. Shelter for hogs was also important. In the southeast shelter for the work animals and their .feed had to be provided as well as space for curing tobacco. 

In this study 1920 is the cutoff date. The end of World War I marked the beginning of mechanization on Indiana farms. After that time barns no longer needed to provide space for work animals, and the need for haylofts was eliminated except in dairy barns. Consid­ered here, therefore, are the types of farm buildings that were built and used on Indiana farms from the time of the first settlers. Barns of this early period, whatever the type, were almost always of pegged frame construc­tion. This construction required that the frame be assembled on the ground and that the entire side of the barn be raised as a unit. We were fortunate to obtain a photograph of a 
barn raising, which is reproduced in the center of this booklet. 

We have classified barns according to roof types as indicated by section headings. No comments are provided on the style of each barn that is pictured since all in each classi­fication are much alike, except possibly as to size. In completing this survey every mile of highway in all counties except Jefferson was traveled. About hundred photographs were made, and an information sheet was filled 
out for every photograph, This material is now in the Smith Library of the Indiana Histor­ical society. Information concerning each photo, if it could be obtained, is given according to the following key: 

  • County 

  • Road Location

  • Original Owner

  • Present Owner 

Additional information, such as construction date and size of the building, can be found on the information sheets. 
We feel that the information gathered and the publication of this booklet is a valuable contribution to the overall knowledge of Indiana architecture."

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