Historic Kansas Barns

Project:   
HISTORIC KANSAS BARNS

Client:   
Kansas State Historical Society

Services by Spencer Preservation:   
Survey of 350 Kansas barns,
Development of “Historic Agriculture-related Resources of Kansas” Multiple Property Listing on the National Register of Historic Places (with Christy Davis of Davis Preservation), and
 listing of six individual barns on the National Register
Date:  
2007-2009

In conjunction with the National Trust’s and National Park Service’s focus in recent years on recognizing and preserving rural resources, including barns, the Kansas State Historic Society hired Spencer to conduct a survey of historic barns in the state and to develop a historic context and Multiple Property Documentation Form to facilitate property-owner sponsored National Register nominations of historic Kansas barns. 

With assistance and cooperation from the Kansas Barn Alliance and Kansas Electric Cooperative (KEC), Spencer identified hundreds of Kansas barns.  In the summer of 2007, Spencer surveyed 352 barns in 84 of the state’s 105 counties.  Kathy Morgan and Susan Ford assisted with barn surveys in the Wichita and Kansas City areas.

A primary goal of the project was to encourage property owners to list their eligible agricultural buildings and barns on the National Register of Historic Places making them eligible to take advantage of existing financial incentives for the preservation and maintenance of historic properties.

The Historic Agriculture-related Resources of Kansas National Register multiple property nomination  was developed largely by Christy Davis of Davis Preservation, and provides a chronology of the history of Kansas agriculture and how changes in technology and farm practices influenced the physical development of farm buildings.  Individual National Register listings of barns and intact farmsteads included primary and secondary agricultural buildings such as farmhouses, granaries, elevators, corn cribs, chicken houses, windmills and fencing.  Surveys and historical research led to the identification of seven prominent property types that represent the most common styles of barns in Kansas.  These classifications are based largely on dominant exterior characteristics such as roof form.  Other distinctions such as construction types and interior features are secondary classifications because they are not readily distinguishable from the building’s exterior.  The most common secondary classifications are timber-frame structures and catalog or kit barns.  The seven barn types are:  Bank Barns, Gable-Roof and Gambrel-Roof Barns, Midwest Prairie Barns, Arched-Roof Barns, Round and Polygonal Barns, and Kansas Vernacular Barns.

The project culminated with nomination of six individual barns on the National Register, under the new MPS Historic Agriculture-Related Resources of Kansas.  Individual barns listed by Spencer include:

The Eliason Barn in Dickenson County is a two-story Midwest Prairie-style barn with a gambrel roof that has original shed bays on the north and south sides.  The tall sweeping roof has a gabled hay hood on the west with doors that slide down the exterior along the slope of the roof.  The barn is a frame structure with horizontal clapboard siding painted red with white trim.  The barn is distinguished by multiple hinged and sliding doors and four-and six-light windows.  Purchased by the Hahn family in 1964, the farm continues operation as a family farm and reflects the evolution of a working Kansas farm.  The barn is one of six primary buildings on the original farm intermingled with a modern home and a number of modern farm buildings. 

The Persons Farm in Riley County, known as the Lazy T Ranch, is nestled in the Flint Hills of the Kansas River valley.  The farm is owned by Ron and Chris Wilson and continues to serve as a working farm, active in 4-H and agriculture-education throughout the community.

The Persons Barn and Granary were nominated to the National Register as part of an “associated grouping” of historic farm buildings and related structures that also includes a native stone corral and hollow clay tile silo.  The barn is a good, early example of the “Gable-Roof Barn” property type, one of the most common styles of Kansas barns.  The granary is an excellent example of early, on-farm grain storage.  This barnyard grouping is significant as an example of an early Kansas farm, established by immigrants who homesteaded in Riley County in 1855 and remains in active use today.

The Shafer Barn in east central Sheridan County is nestled in the Solomon River valley, south of the community of Tasco, Kansas.  Although originally comprised of multiple farm and domestic outbuildings, the farmhouse and barn are the only remaining structures.   The Shafer Barn is significant as an excellent representative of the Gambrel-Roof Barn property type.  It reflects the essential and prominent role that barns played on Kansas farms, designed for the multiple purposes of housing livestock and storing hay.  The barn also played a social role in the agricultural community as the site of numerous community barn dances.  The barn and adjacent farmhouse are the only remaining buildings on the Shafer Farmstead, originally established in 1905.  The barn is representative of the period in which it was constructed which coincides with the rising popularity of the gambrel-roof form that gained favor for its large, free-span hay mow.  The barn’s roof shape and exterior form portray the prominent characteristics of the property type.  The Shafer Barn was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under the Multiple Property Nomination, Historic Agriculture-Related Resources of Kansas as an example of the “Gambrel-Roof Barn.”

The Teske Farmstead in Pottawatomie County is located northwest of the town of Onaga.  Owned by Victor and Claudia Janousek, the farmhouse and barn are the primary buildings on the farmstead. The barn reflects the essential and prominent role that barns played on Kansas farms, designed for the multi-purpose of housing livestock and storing hay.  Its roof shape and exterior form portray the prominent characteristics of the Gable-Roof Barn.  The barn was nominated as part of a historic farmstead on which the barn and farmhouse are the primary buildings, each representative of the period in which they were built.  The Georgian (Colonial) Revival Farmhouse and springhouse are constructed of native stone and stand as representatives of the original structures on the farmstead, built by Ferdinand Teske shortly after his 1869 immigration.  The barn and a frame chicken house represent later wood-frame structures constructed after the 1907 tornado.  The farmstead is significant as an example of a typical early Kansas farm, established by German immigrants who came to Pottawatomie County in 1869 and as a reflection of the common evolution of such farms, often impacted by natural disasters.  The Teske Barn was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as part of an intact farmstead, under the Multiple Property Nomination, Historic Agriculture-Related Resources of Kansas as an example of the “Gable-Roof Barn” property type.

The Thornburg farm, in the northwest corner of Ness County, is owned by Roy and Roxie Thornburg.  The farmstead is located in the northeast quarter of the section that was purchased by Roy’s grandfather in 1898.  The Thornburg Barn is an outstanding example of the Gambrel-Roof Barn property type distinguished not only by its exterior form but also by its construction, craftsmanship and detailing.  The barn reflects construction techniques of the period, including a hand-formed concrete block foundation, and a pre-cut kit barn, mail-ordered from the Sears Roebuck Company.  Constructed in 1929, the barn was designed for the multi-purpose of milking cattle, sheltering horses, and storing grain and hay (replacing the former singular-use stable).  The third-generation of Thornburgs resides on the farm.  The barn stands as a symbol of the essential and prominent role that barns played on Kansas farms and a legacy of the Thornburgs who were among the earliest settlers to the area that would become the town of Utica.  The Thornburg Barn is nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under the Multiple Property Nomination, Historic Agriculture-Related Resources of Kansas as an example of the “Gambrel-Roof Barn” property type.

Since completion of the state-wide project, Spencer has worked for individual barn owners Mike Heptig in Pottawatomie County and John Campbell in Chase County, to list their barns on the National Register and pursue improvement projects using Kansas Historic Tax Credits.

Links

http://www.kansasbarnalliance.org/newscurrent.php
http://www.ozarksfn.com/mo-articles-aamp-stories-editorial-159/90-farm-help-missouri/2962-our-heritage-restored.html
http://www.uvm.edu/~barn/documents/Federal_Barn_Rehab_Tax_Credits.pdf
Kansas Preservation Magazine  

Back to Top