| Cantril, Iowa
- This true round barn was built in 1917
East of Cantril, Iowa in Van Buren County by Fred Silver. The barn became the "Silver
Sales Pavilion" which was the largest Hampshire Hog farm in the world in the 20's. It
could feed 1500 hogs at a time. The walls of this 50 foot diameter barn are made of hallow
clay tile with a two-pitched gambrel roof with eight dormers. In the 30's it was operated
as a private club during the prohibition. It is currently being used for storage.
Iowa - In 1919 this true round barn
was built by Peter Tonsfeldt on the West edge of Lemars, Iowa to show his purebred
livestock and prized polled Hereford bull named "Ito's Perfection" thinking his
new breed of cattle would revolutionize the livestock industry. Unfortunately, due to post
war ag price collapses, Tonsfeldts lost his farm. In 1980 the barn was put up for auction
and the buyers gave it to the Plymouth County Fair Board. Public pledges helped pay for
the moving and repair of the barn an in September 1981 the barn was moved to the Plymouth
County Fairgrounds on the East side of Lemars, Iowa.
County - This is a true round barn which stands 61
feet in diameter and 3 stories high. Construction on the barn was completed by a farmer
known as "Round Barn Johnson"! The barn is located west of Mansion, Iowa with a
dome roof. Recently, barn owner Milton Hines gave the barn to Twin Lakes Christian Center.
The Center is now in the middle of a fund raising campaign to finance the relocation and
refurbishment of the barn. After it is moved the 1/4 mile from its present location, the
center plans to use it as an all purpose performance and athletic center. Call Joel Rude @
Iowa - This twelve sided barn,
built in 1911 by Henry Weber, is located in Iowa's Allamakee County 1 1/2 mile South of
the Minnesota border on HWY 76. Mr. Webber's relatives still live on the farm. The barn is
currently used for cattle and storage.
This true round barn is South of Waukon,
Iowa in Allamakee County. It is 40 feet in diameter and has a wood shingled two pitched
self supporting gambrel roof with a central feeding hay chute and cattle stanchions. The
exterior is a combination of horizontal sawn wood siding for the first floor and batten
for the second floor.
- This round barn is 56 feet
in diameter is south of Waukon, Iowa on Highway 9. The barn was built in 1912 and is one
of the few wood barns in Iowa with horizontal sawn wood siding. The two-pitched gambrel
roof is self-supporting with asphalt shingles. The roof was repaired in 1995. The interior
of this barn has a central silo constructed of wood stave and lined with cement. Today the
barn is used for cattle.
Iowa - This barn was built in 1921 South of
Douds, Iowa in Van Buren County. It is the only round barn in Iowa known to be designed by
the architectural department of Louden Machine Company. It is one of the four round barns
in Iowa with a domed roof. The barn is 60 feet in diameter, 65 feet high and can hold 75
tons of hay and 800 bushels of grain. The original dome roof collapsed in 1920 and was
replaced by an asphalt shingled cone roof with a metal cone roof cupola.
- Joshua H. Secrest erected
this octagon barn near Downey, Iowa in Johnston County. It was built by Master Builder
George Frank Longerbean. This barn is 80 feet in diameter and had a stable room for 32
horses, 16 cows, and room for 200 tons of hay. The basement was built for livestock, the
ground level for machinery, and the upper loft for hay. In 1974 this barn was placed on
the National Register of Historic Places.
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About Round Barns
George Washington's sixteen sided barn built in 1793 is the earliest recorded barn of this
type. However the most famous and perhaps the first true round barn was the Shaker Barn in
Hancock, Massachusetts built in 1825. It was 90 feet in diameter with 30 inch stone walls.
After it burned down, the Shakers built another on the same site in 1865.
Not until the late 1800's did round barns
really catch on and even then they were only located on the farms of wealthy farmers who
had the resources to indulge in architectural styles. Octagonal or sixteen sided barns
were the first to gain early popularity. In Lowell Soikes book "Without Right
Angles" Soikes conjectures that round barns with silos contained within were
considered ideal feeding facilities and contributed to "The good nature of the
With the establishment of Iowa State
University as one of the earliest land grant colleges, they were encouraging farmers and
contractors via teaching and publications to build round or octagonal barns. These octagon
barns were erected and built generally of heavy timbers on stone foundations while later
barns were built on cement foundations. One octagonal barn near Ames, Iowa was constructed
from wood collected from the remains of a devastating tornado in 1881 in Story County.
However, by the early 1890's the octagonal barn was waning in popularity and the true
round barns came into vogue. The final round barn innovation came around 1908- 1910 when
hollow clay tile replaced wood in the building of the round barns. But by the early 1920's
the round barn era was over.
Today these emblems of past architectural
and agricultural innovation, stand ravaged by weather, time, and abandonment. They are
mere shrines to a vanishing way of life. With a few exceptions these barns have outlived
their usefulness and its simply too impractical and too expensive to maintain and/or