The following stories are the successful preservation tales. They are the stories of individuals making a decision to protect something of value for the next generation. These individuals are the heroes, the ones who had the conviction to make a difference that will have long-lasting impacts on the communities they involve. Like the story line in a Frank Capra movie, these barns will have a happy ending.

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Chase Stone Barn, Town of Chase, Wisconsin
In a time when communities seem to care more about the bottom line and less about their history, the story of the Chase Stone Barn is a classic. The barn is unique by Midwestern standards because it is entirely stone. Built in 1903, in a region rich in stonemasons and a terrain littered with glacially tumbled stones, it was a natural match to create this masterpiece of architecture.

When the threat of development loomed in 2007 the town of Chase and passionate community residents found the resources and committed to saving the structure. In a short time, these residents had the barn listed on the State and National registers of Historic Places and are working diligently to find the remaining resources needed to fully protect and restore the barn. Their next fundraising event will be on June 6, 2009.

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Gildner Barn
Critically positioned at a curve of the Wisconsin River, this farm has hosted several generations of travelers and families. Legend says that the barn was built by the Gildner family around 1890 using wood from logs that were beached along the banks of the river. The logs had been part of a raft in the wave of timber being hauled down the river for delivery to Mississippi.

By 1890 the lumber industry was winding down in the region, and the raft got caught in ice during a particularly harsh winter. The Gildners were an industrious local family that built several barns in the area and still maintain family connections in our modern times. One of the features of their barns were the tilted windows near the roof peak that held their signatures along the sills. Today, the barn stands tall and is protected by a family that understands that farming is not about owning the land, it is about “the land owning you”.

University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dairy Showplace
The University of Wisconsin barns built for the College of Agriculture on the Madison campus in the late 1800’s are still standing and serve as excellent examples of the dairy industry in Wisconsin at the turn of the century. Built as both a teaching farm and as a real dairy facility, the barns were demonstration showplaces.

The barn was designed by J.T.W Jennings, an architect out of Chicago, who designed the barn in a style popular in Normandy France. The showplace design featured a brick silo lined with Portland cement, and with a water tank located under the roof. In these barns, studies for the cures for bovine tuberculosis were carried out and demonstrated using the ‘Scientific Method’.

The adjacent horse barn, constructed later, was also built as a showplace for both students and visitors. The interior boasts cast iron vent covers, beautifully fashioned newel posts, and spacious corals. Today, the barns stand surrounded by modern buildings and updated facilities.


Elewa Farms
Originally built in 1917 Elewa Farms was named by A. Watson Armour after his wife Elsa and himself. The estate was designed by architect Alfred Hopkins of Long Island who had unique ideas about farms, their layouts, and how to arrange the feed stations and corals for animals. Designed with a Georgian Colonial Revival style, the estate featured separate feeding stations, staging areas for carriages and riders, an orchard, and formal gardens.Around 2001, residents in Lake Forest rescued the farm that had succumbed to the elements. The original integrity of the farm was restored and ultimately the estate is now managed by the City of Lake Forest and the Elewa Farm Foundation.


University of Illinois Demonstration Barns
University of Illinois has several historic barns that are still intact on its campus in Champaign, Illinois. Most notably remaining are the three round barns that were built between 1907 and 1913 on a 20 acre demonstration dairy farm. The farms sole purpose was “to produce the largest amount of milk per acre at the lowest possible cost.”

The barns were modeled after earlier East Coast round barns that were felt to exhibit an efficient use of space. With the publication of several bulletins on the construction techniques, advantages and disadvantages, the Illinois versions became models for many round barns built throughout the Midwest in the early 20th century. In 1994, the barns were placed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Montana Barn Stolen
Barn wrangling? In Montana, there was a case of barn thievery on an open property owned by a local land trust. The barn was in an isolated section of country and was falling through neglect. Barn wood is in high demand in parts of the country but the work required to actually steal a barn, must have been impressive.