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Save an Old Barn: Ideas, Resources and Funding

Updated on June 11, 2015

Maintaining and Restoring Vintage Barns

If you have an old barn in the country, it may have fallen into disrepair. If it's over 100 years old, the barn has the wear-and-tear of many years on its roof, walls and support beams. Repairing such a barn can be expensive and a daunting task.

Maybe it's because I grew up on a farm in Kansas, but I hate to see a neglected barn. As I drive down the highway, I feel sad to see an old red barn sagging and with peeling paint. In some cases the paint is long gone. As the number of family farms dwindle, more and more we see these forgotten and uncared for barns.

Once it was the showplace of that farm; filled with livestock and a supply of hay for the winter. Barns are an important part of our rural achitectural heritage. If you have an old barn and are trying to save it, you'll find some useful links and resources below.

(photo of a barn in Maine - taken by Virginia Allain)

Supplies and Info to Help with a Barn Project - Rescue an old barn

Need lighting for your old barn? How about getting a feasibility study done or having someone dismantle and reassemble the barn? Check out the resources I've found for this.

Books about Restoring Barns on Amazon - Available from Amazon

Living Barns: How to Find and Restore a Barn of Your Own (Schiffer Books)
Living Barns: How to Find and Restore a Barn of Your Own (Schiffer Books)

This book will inspire you to restore your favorite old barn. The author offers great advice for saving the original wood and for moving structures around. You'll see beautiful restoration examples the will make you get up and get renovating!

 
Renovating Barns, Sheds & Outbuildings
Renovating Barns, Sheds & Outbuildings

This is one of the best books on renovating barns out there today. The author explains in great detail how to repair and restore every area of the structure. If you have issues with leaning, buckling foundation or rotting posts, you'll find awesome ways to fix those problems as well as roof repair and more!

 
Old Barns in the New World: Reconstructing History
Old Barns in the New World: Reconstructing History

The author of this book has over 30 years of experience in restoring old barns. Great advice is offered here.

 
Barn: The Art of a Working Building
Barn: The Art of a Working Building

Photos, text and even drawings are combined to give you structural detail and finished buildings. This is an easy to read book that is enjoyable and informative. For those who enjoy looking at these magnificent buildings, this book is a must-have for your library!

 

Here's a Project to Save the Old Barns in Maine

It's great to see an individual take the initiative to call attention to the rapid deterioration and loss of old barns.

In an area like Maine, the heavy winter snows can collapse any barn that's already sagging. The old timbers may have lasted a hundred years or more but finally age and neglect take their toll.

Click on the link to see Timothy Parks' barn paintings.

Recognizing Different Barn Styles - Book available from Amazon

The Old Barn Book: A Field Guide to North American Barns & Other Farm Structures
The Old Barn Book: A Field Guide to North American Barns & Other Farm Structures

If you are looking for accurate information on a style of barn and where it may be located this is the book for you. (excerpt from an Amazon review)

 

More Field Guides to Old Barns and Barn Architecture

Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings (Library of New England)
Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings (Library of New England)

There are some pretty unique barns in New England. I like the ones in Maine and NH that connect to the house.

 

Have You Heard of Barn Quilts? - Read about how this kind of tourism helps an area

In Sac County, Iowa, many vintage barns are ornamented with a brightly-painted barn quilt. The idea was to call attention to the annual quilt show, but draws many tourists to the area to see the old barns and their displayed art piece.

The idea is catching on in quite a few areas. Here are links to some locales where you can view barn quilts.

Two Minute Video Shows the Making and Hanging of a Barn Quilt

Vintage Barn in Southern Maine (photo by Virginia Allain)

Vintage Barn in Southern Maine (photo by Virginia Allain)
Vintage Barn in Southern Maine (photo by Virginia Allain)

More Links to Help with Your Restoration - of an old barn

More web pages to help with restoring, dismantling and researching your aging barn.

More Helpful Sites for Saving Old Barns - Subscribe to the Barn Journal or Other Magazines about Barns

Check out the web page which has useful information.

You Can Make a Barn Poster - Using Zazzle and Sell It Online

This can be a way to raise funds for your barn restoration. Make posters, mugs, tote bags, cards, etc. on Zazzle (a print-on-demand site). It costs nothing to put your photo on lots of products which are featured online. You don't have to handle the sales, the products, or the shipping. Zazzle takes care of all that and you get a commission from each item sold.

Use Photos of Your Barn to Earn Money

  • You can put your own photos on products at Zazzle or Cafe Press to sell online. The sites offer mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, posters and many other products. There is no charge to you, just sign up and add your photos or artwork.
  • Promote the products to locals and tourists, perhaps with a flyer at the chamber of commerce. They can go to the online site to buy a mug or poster with your barn on it. You get a commission for each sale.

    Click on this example of a barn poster to get an idea. Look around Zazzle for more details on joining the site.

Help for Old Barns

A State-by-State Listing

More to Come

As I find more resources, I'll add them here. This listing is not complete.

Be sure to look at adjacent states for some barn specialist that may be useful to you.

Connecticut - Resources for Saving a Barn in Connecticut

The funding on some historic trusts and government funding comes and goes. Check on each of these to see the current status of their funding.

Indiana - Resources to Save a Barn in Indiana

Barn in Indiana.
Barn in Indiana. | Source

Vermont - Resources for Saving a Barn in Vermont

Source

National Resources and Programs for Barns

Besides looking at grants available in the state-by-state list above, look around for nationwide programs to preserve vintage barns.

Books on Finding and Applying for Grants - to save an old barn

You can borrow books like these from the public library. Ask to see their grant directories. Usually these are in the reference section or the library may subscribe to an online grants and foundation directory.

Anything to Add?

Please add a note in the comment section if you know of foundations, grants, government aid, or other resources for saving a barn.

Success Stories

Barns That Have Been Saved

Barns Saved and Repurposed- Success Stories

Read about others who've succeeded in restoring their barn and see how they did it.

Rescued Barns and Other Unusual Conversions - Book available from Amazon

I'm amazed at the unique uses for old barns. People are very inventive in converting these into homes or businesses.

See One Barn Restored

Lost Barns

Barns That Didn't Get Saved

Fundraising Ideas

for Old Barns

Fundraising Ideas to Save Old Barns

Make a calendar to sell as a fundraiser.

Make a Video to Solicit Donations to Save a Barn

The first YouTube video is a wonderful example of this. Possibly you could get Kickstarter funding for your old barn. Take a look at the Kickstarter Basic FAQs to see how it might work for you.

Getting Local Help for an Old Barn

In this news story, a local rescue team practices shoring up a building to prevent collapsing. This provided a valuable service to a barn owner while giving the firefighters some experience.

Christmas and Old Barns

Decorate Your Barn for the Holidays

Are You a Fan of Old Barns?

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    • Jim Houston profile image

      Jim Houston 3 years ago from Wilmer, Alabama

      Really nice lens. The old barns are really enchanted places with a story in each one.

      JimHouston33

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @felixthehat: that's marvelous! I wish you the best in rehabbing it.

    • profile image

      felixthehat 3 years ago

      Hi,

      I just made an offer on an old farm in Maine and I'm so excited about the barn. It needs some work, but I want to make it into a gallery/studio space for artists. It's really big, 2 stories, post and beam, dry. The charm factor is off the charts. Hope I can use some of these great resources to get it fixed up.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @akscotto: It's a lot easier to self-publish a book these days and I've done several family history books using blurb.com.

      In the search line (upper right), put blurb and have it search to find my articles on that.

    • Jim Houston profile image

      Jim Houston 3 years ago from Wilmer, Alabama

      This was a rememberance of what our heritage truly is and possibly what we have lost as a country. We live in the country and have older neighbors who lived this culture while sustaining our country. Strange the way times change and very unfortunate. Great lens. JimHouston33

    • profile image

      akscotto 3 years ago

      I have lost 2 old barns(2 different properties) and two wives withholding. However, my interest is in preserving/photos/a d history of out houses/and wanting to produce a book about the same. Any ideas that you may have would be beneficial.

      akscotto@comcast.net

    • chrisilouwho profile image

      chrisilouwho 3 years ago

      This was really nice, I love all of the photos!

    • Meganhere profile image

      Meganhere 3 years ago

      I love barns! Sadly, they're rare in Australia. Nice lens.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @mayraborcea: Local and state governments have pulled back on funding for restoration since the economic downturn. It is tough to find money to fix up even a historic barn.

    • mayraborcea profile image

      mayraborcea 3 years ago

      Great lens! I have seen some old barns that really need to be restored but (I was told) they have a hard time getting funds to renovate them....

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 3 years ago

      Wow! What a comprehensive resource for barn restoration ideas and resources! :)

    • kiwikitkat profile image

      kiwikitkat 3 years ago

      Yes, you're right there are a lot of old barns out there that are screaming for some renovation. Very interesting lens!

    • profile image

      KTPT13 3 years ago

      I see a lot of these old barns that you describe here. They would be much nicer all fixed up. Great resource list.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @KTPT13: I think of them as part of our country's architectural heritage.

    • seodress profile image

      seodress 4 years ago

      Good idea.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @blestman lm: Great idea and surely more interesting than standard paneling from the big box store.

    • blestman lm profile image

      blestman lm 4 years ago

      Great lens. Thank you. My father-in-law built the inside of his house out of old barn wood because he wanted something that would stand up to rambunctious children

    • profile image

      triley76 4 years ago

      Pretty nice lens ... it's not something I've thought of before.

    • LaptopLeader profile image

      LaptopLeader 4 years ago

      Thanks for a very interesting lens! Saving old barns is something new to me.

    • profile image

      jpmny999 4 years ago

      This is very interesting. Barns are a real part of American history.

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