A sampling of unique round barns. Click each photo to see a larger image.
This impressive barn, built in 1918, was moved some years ago to the Le Mars, Iowa, fairgrounds. It is 68 high, contains 5200 sq/ft and was built for raising and showing cattle. It was previously located on the farm that Herman and Clara Lang purchased in 1928. They were the maternal grandparents of Tim Heller, who submitted the photo and information. After Claras death in 1975, the barn was donated to the Plymouth County Fair Board in 1981 and moved to its present location. It was listed on the National Registry of Historical Places in 1986.
Tim Heller lives in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. He grew up in Des Moines and spent summers at Le Mars playing in the great round barn.
Photo by C. Leik, July 1994
The Teeple Barn, built in 1885, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only 16-sided barn recorded in IL. Although Matsushita Electric (Panasonic) owns the property, it is the responsibility of AgTech, a local not-for-profit organization, to secure the funds to stabilize and rehabilitate the barn for public use. This work began on an emergency basis in early 1999 with replacement of the critical compression ring that supports the intricate roof system. In April a new cupola was installed.
An interesting history of the Teeple family dating to the American Revolution and a detailed description of the barn is available at www.cbcast.com/agtech. AgTech (Marianne Nelson, Executive Director) is at P.O. Box 961, Elgin, IL 60121-0961 or call 847.888.1570.
Photo by C. Leik, June 1976
This set of buildings, including the round white barn in the
center of the photo, is located on the St. Lawrence River
northeast of Quebec City (Canada), half a continent away from the
Illinois barn. If you can contribute more information on the
buildings, dimensions, history, and current status, please send
that information to the address at the
bottom of this page.
James and Cora Purdy engaged local carpenters, George and John Munro to build the Octagon Barn in 1923-4. Mr. Purdy, President of Gagetown State Savings was a successful Michigan Thumb banker who could afford this large structure for his showplace farm. The Barn is located north of M-81 in Tuscola county and one mile east of the village of Gagetown on the Bay City-Forestville road. Turn left onto Richie road for one mile to the intersection of Richie and Huron Line roads.
The Octagon Barn was modeled after one Mr. Purdy had seen while traveling. He admired it so much that he spared no expense in building his own. It has eight 42.5' sides and 16,000 sq/ft of useable space on the main floor and loft area. It stands approximately 70' high on a 4' poured concrete foundation. The frame is sheathed with 16' vertical boards running from the foundation to the eaves.
From the eaves, the roof slopes to form a peak. Halfway up the roof encircling the structure are evenly spaced dormer windows. These windows patch into an octagonal shaped "turret-like" structure with clerestory windows between each dormer. There were originally 300 individual window panes in the Barn which were engineered so that there would not be direct sunlight focused on the hay, thereby lessening the risk of fire.
The first floor has 8600 sq/ft and the maximum distance between the interior walls is 108'. This level has a 44' octagonal dirt floor arena in which there were originally two glazed brick silos that have been removed. Between the arena and side walls are stables, tack rooms and grain bins. Above this area is an overhead loft 29' wide that surrounds the arena area except on the east and west sides. At these points there are 14' x 14' doors that allowed haywagon access to the arena.
The second level has 6200 sq/ft of floor area. Below the ceiling is the remains of a tramway used to load the loft. Also there are air shafts that were part of a sophisticated ventillation system that circulated fresh air throughout the building. The columns of light from the dormers and high cupola lend a cathedral-like aura to the interior.
John and Cora Purdy
James Purdy joined his fathers Gagetown bank in 1890 and under his leadership this was one of only two banks in Michigan to remain fully solvent during the Great Depression. In order to reestablish public confidence in the banking system Purdy believed that the Federal Government should insure deposits and he proposed this idea to Senator Arthur Vandenburg. Senator Vandenburg introduced the concept in the Senate and later to FDR. Hence, James Purdy is recognized as the originator of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The Purdys sold the farm in 1943. James died on Christmas Eve, 1950 at age 80 and Cora in 1955, age 86. Cora Purdys diary of 1895-1954 has been valuable in documenting events at the Octagon Barn.
In 1993, the Friends of the Octagon Barn was formed. This is a volunteer, community group committed to the restoration and preservation of the Barn and the adjacent acres. The intention is for the Octagon Barn to become a tourist and historical attraction for the communitys education, entertainment and recreation .
Each summer the Friends have a festival and the Fifth Annual Festival was scheduled for August 15, 1998. Activities are planned for the entire family and the proceeds support the restoration effort. Please contact Friends of the Thumb Octagon Barn, P.O. Box 145, Gagetown, MI 48735, or call (517) 665-0081, or visit their web site at thumboctagon.8m.com.
To submit a barn to The Barn Journal's "Round Barns" section, send a color photo of the barn and a description of its construction, history, current use, and other relevant information to:
9526 Locust Hill Dr.
Great Falls, VA 22066