We do not have the exact dates on this barn but it is obviously quite old. It is clad on the exterior with German lap siding. This is one of the earliest types of siding and has a unique recessed profile creating a strong sense of shadows to help visually to separate each row. All of the siding was attached with cut nails rather than the round wire nails that are used today. A cut nail is sheared or cut from a sheet of steel and has two matching flat sides as versus the square nail that is forged and usually has four fairly equal sides. The heyday for the cut nail was from about 1820 to 1910 and so we figure that the barn is of about the same vintage as the 1911 farmhouse; perhaps a little older. It initially had a milk storage room within the initial structure but a need for increased and more efficient storage led to an addition at the front of the barn.
When we bought the farm the old dairy barn was in poor shape. The roof truss system had spread and the walls had been cabled together to hold its shape and integrity. We used the barn for storage initially while we were working on other parts of the farm and finally in February of 2011 we were able to begin its restoration. We have maintained the initial footprint of the barn and have tried to restore and use as much of the original siding as possible.
The milking parlor and stalls are original with their original Louden stanchions and design. William Louden of Louden Machinery Company of Fairfield Iowa invented and exhibited this type of stanchion at the 1907 National Dairy Show. Wooden stalls had been widely used previously, but presented various problems, and the all-steel Louden stanchions and stalls were designed to solve some of those problems. These were advertised as “the first practical all-steel cow milking stall”. We did remove one row of stalls from the parlor to allow more open space in the barn so that it could be used and enjoyed by larger groups.
We have had to re roof the barn and have elected to use steel rods from wall to wall similar to those used on our event barn. The dairy barn is now structurally very sound and we are currently completing some of the “finishing touches” on this really neat old space. Hopefully with a little care it will be around for another 100 years.
The barn has an old silo just adjacent and we have just finished replacing its dome and opening a door into the inside. It too has now become a magical Yesterday Space. We have started out our year with a number of wonderful rehearsal dinners in the Dairy Barn and it is receiving excellent reviews from our clients and from their guests.