I do not have the education to be a scholar of architecture, however I know this- I like barns. There is no more powerful connection to a time that no longer exists than a nice, old barn. There are so few barns which have been allowed another generation of life as most of the old barns are torn down and replaced by pole sheds. I was glad to find someone who not only likes barn but didn’t tear down an old barn when it was down on its’ luck.
The ceiling fell in on Leon Lundstrom’s barn last March while he was feeding his horses. We all remember how the snow piled up on our roofs last winter and the concentrated weight made Leon’s barn roof cave in. I remember seeing a picture of it on social media and I remember thinking that another old barn would now be demolished.
Some time later, I saw another social media post that Leon’s barn was going to rise again after some of that snow melted. Leon said he had hired someone to bring that old barn back to usefulness.
Leon’s old barn is two barns, one from 1930 and the other from 1961 that were married together. One of the most interesting aspects of the barn is an elevated granary that allows a farmer to feed cattle or horses from one location through tubes. It is a heavy old structure-just walking inside it made me feel connected to history.
Walseth Construction got to work on Leon’s barn. It was a tremendous amount of work to remove the debris that had collapse on top of an old John Deere “A” tractor. Then they had to straighten old walls and replace the roof. It was a lot of work, but they made it nice, straight and very useful. Lundstrom even had them make the old lean-too into a paint room for tractors-complete with an overhead door.
I’ve seen many good barns torn down and replaced with pole sheds. It always makes me sad. This was a barn that had a pretty large failure and most would have replaced it. I asked Lundstrom why he didn’t just push it in and start over. He told me that when he considered it, he was amazed at how he felt about the barn. I thought he talked about the barn almost like a friend or a close relative.
That’s the way it is with old structures that you grow to trust and value. As you get older, the experiences of your life become more precious than any other commodity and the places where you make them become a close friend. Leon Lundstrom’s barn holds more than just horses or cattle, it holds memories.