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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 4 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 4 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 4 years ago

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

    • kiwikitkat profile image

      kiwikitkat 4 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 4 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 4 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.

    • profile image

      weballan 4 years ago

      So much interesting and helpful information. Thank you for your expertise.

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 4 years ago

      Cool...interesting content...

    • Fit And Fab profile image

      Fit And Fab 4 years ago

      There is something very warm and reassuring about barns. I had not given much thought to the shape and style though. Great lens. :-)

    • profile image

      fondan 4 years ago

      Excellent article! Thank you!

    • profile image

      gin001 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed your lens. I have fond memories of playing in my grandparents old barn. Thanks for sharing.

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 4 years ago

      thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      CristianStan 4 years ago

      This lens just goes to show that you can turn anything into a charity that will help people

    • profile image

      SquiDudeUser 4 years ago

      @jayvalor @vallain I could def. see a bar inside of a barn lol.

    • Sara Krentz profile image

      Sara Krentz 4 years ago from USA

      I love old barns and lighthouses.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @michalk lm: Good idea that I'll follow up on. I'll feature some here.

    • michalk lm profile image

      michalk lm 4 years ago

      There are so many jigsaw puzzles of barns cause they're so interesting

    • charlesunderwoo1 profile image

      charlesunderwoo1 4 years ago

      what a wonderful lens!

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @jean valdor: How about a bar in a barn then? ;-)

    • jean valdor profile image

      jean valdor 4 years ago

      Great lens i love bars!!

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      I love barns too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I live in old barn country and never gave this a thought. Very interesting read.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @wahponywoo2: With 5 siblings, we had plenty of players to scramble around in the hay loft for such games. Thanks for the memories your comment evoked.

    • wahponywoo2 profile image

      Steven 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Growing up in Iowa I spent a lot of time in my grandfathers barn and it was always a place of magic to me... I can't tell you how many dragons I slayed or outlaws I corralled :) Very interesting lens!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 4 years ago

      One thing is for sure. These old barns have a lot of characters and that's something I can appreciate in any kind of building. I had to stop by again to take a second look at all the colorful images.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @laurenrich: There is something so satisfying about a vintage barn.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @Anthony Altorenna: I love reading about someone restoring an old barn. Quite a job, though.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 4 years ago from Connecticut

      It's such a shame to see so many rustic old barns falling in on themselves, though they make you wonder about their history and the folks who built them. Fortunately, there are people with vision (and resources) to bring many of these wonderful old buildings back to life.

    • profile image

      laurenrich 4 years ago

      This is an excellent lens. This lens is very complete with great information. I too love barns. Thanks for sharing these tips and ideas.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @mrknowitall54321: An old barn is quite scenic and reminds us of the agricultural history in our country. They should be preserved.

    • mrknowitall54321 profile image

      mrknowitall54321 4 years ago

      I love barns

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @salsa-dancing: Surprisingly there are quite a few people who are trying to find funding or materials or skilled renovators for old barns. The page has been quite popular.

    • salsa-dancing profile image

      Salsa Dancing 4 years ago

      This seems like a very esoteric topic!

    • ricber profile image

      ricber 4 years ago

      This Old Barns information is magnificent. I understand and respect your clear-cut points. I am impressed with your writing style and how well you express your thoughts.

      I really love it!

      Thank you for writing this great content.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      very interesting.

    • profile image

      CSC-Austria 4 years ago

      Wow! This article made me falling in love with old barns! It must be great to be able to restore one and use it for living. I guess I know what to do in about ten years. Thanks!

    • carolweez profile image

      carolweez 4 years ago

      Restoring old buildings were what my father's life was about. Naturally I visited many jobs with him as I grew older and it developed a very strong connection between me and neglected buildings. Sometimes you wish these buildings could talk, I can only imagine the stories we would be hearings. Beautiful lens.

    • profile image

      anand5409 4 years ago

      interesting thought. i like it

    • profile image

      Emilee46 4 years ago

      gret looking for the lense. can you give me some suggest for my lense. i want to make a great lense too

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 4 years ago

      Most valuable topic. Old Barns part of historic rehabs can become hub of community activities sometimes. I have attended antique events and know of barn dance events here in Virginia. Need one more lense on this topic from you in future. Thanks.

    • annanee profile image

      annanee 4 years ago from USA

      very interesting idea, and I love your theme!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image

      Glenda Motsavage 4 years ago from The Sunshine State

      Absolutely one of the best lens I've come across to date! Well deserving of the Purple Star! Raised as a small-town farmer's daughter, I've been inspired to "go back to my humble roots," and "save" the family farm. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • profile image

      troykhooim 4 years ago

      Great effort to help save old barns. Would love to see one in real life someday if I have the chance :D

    • profile image

      troykhooim 4 years ago

      Great effort to help save old barns. Would love to see one in real life someday if I have the chance :D

    • techmathhelp profile image

      techmathhelp 4 years ago

      Thank you for the nice lens.

    • profile image

      infoarticle 4 years ago

      I like your page content

      I like your page content

    • Kevin Matson profile image

      Kevin Matson 4 years ago

      What an interesting lens! I've passed so many barns in the past and I never thought about them twice. I will definitely pay more attention when I see them in the future.

    • profile image

      jimmyboy88 4 years ago

      nice article, very detailed too. i really like it

    • profile image

      humphreys-humphreys 4 years ago

      You never know your luck.

    • BTOReilly profile image

      BTOReilly 4 years ago

      If a barn is too far gone to restore, you can always salvage the wood for something like the Texas Tiny Houses, too.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @Squidviews: I'd like to take more barn photos, but hubby drives us and he hates to stop every half mile for my picture taking.

    • Squidviews profile image

      Squidviews 4 years ago

      What an interesting lens. I love driving in the country, and when I see an old barn or the remnants of one, I often stop to take a picture, especially the ones with the old advertisements painted on them.

      AJ

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just found your web page. Very interesting, inspiring, and motivating. Good to know that I am not alone. Am currently restoring a 100 year old barn (40 by 32)

      family barn in North Carolina.from the sills up.

    • EndorsedAudio LM profile image

      EndorsedAudio LM 4 years ago

      Lots of great looking barn pictures, lots of great info too. Thanks for sharing

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: You might try a product calledBarn Odor Destroyer and Manure Digester.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i just recently purchased a property that has an 85 yr old barn on it. it was primarily used for a chicken farm, i shoveled all the poop and pressure washed it all out clean but the smell is making me wonder if it was worth it!! how do i clean it to make it to make it sanitary??

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @Sojourn: Now that sounds like another web page that someone should do... the stories behind old barns.

    • profile image

      Sojourn 4 years ago

      When I visit my parents on the east coast, I see lots of old barns. Some have been repurposed and others are sitting dark and lonely. I never can help wondering what they were like in their prime and why they're abandoned today. They seem to have their own stories to tell, don't they?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Fantastic site! We've got an old barn whose one foundation wall, sadly, is collapsing. Found some really helpful and encouraging info here. Have bookmarked the site, and will be back to visit often. Thanks!

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @yollobalono: You can tell that I really love old barns.

    • profile image

      yollobalono 4 years ago

      Nice looking lens. Ive never seen so many pictures of barns in one place though was a first for me

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: It's inspiring to hear of a barn being renovated. Best of luck to you on your project and for your husband's health.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love, love, love the information on old barnes. My husband and I are in the middle of restoring our barn on our family farm that we purchased in 2005. We dismantled an entire barn board by board in the area that was going to be demolished. We used the saved wood to put our barn back together. Before our restoration began, my husband at 59 years of age, was diagnosed with two forms of blood cancer. The barn project went nowhere in dealing with my husbands illness - until this year. This year we hired a group to put on a new roof and save the exterior. We still have a long way to go but it is truly a labor of love..

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @TimuM: If you just search with Google for zazzle, you'll find it.

    • profile image

      TimuM 5 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: Vallain, What is the URL Zazzle.com? Great posting.. Thanks

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @oakstreet: I use a lot of Zazzle images (I'm an affiliate and earn referrals). As far as the layout of the lens, I just kept adding to it over the months. As a librarian, I research quite a bit online and found all the barn grants and barn restoration services. Those have been popular with visitors to this page.

    • profile image

      oakstreet 5 years ago

      Beautiful pictures and many useful information on saving a barn. Especially the template of your len, wow ! How did you do that ? Great len and a "like" from me.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @lclchors: It's sad to see them like that, but you are right they photograph well to the end.

    • lclchors profile image

      lclchors 5 years ago

      We have one that was too far gone when we bought the farm but it has made for great photos

    • profile image

      Matt_Lowe 5 years ago

      Great lens, and a great cause as well. I have miles to go before my lenses are anywhere close to yours!

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens, great job!

    • Lenskeeper profile image

      Lenskeeper 5 years ago

      Nice job. I love old barns, the look and the nostalgia. I have done a couple of lenses on barns and barn wood as well.

    • CameronPoe profile image

      CameronPoe 5 years ago

      Wow. Didn't realize that barns are such historic monuments that ought to be preserved. Or at least some of them. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      dream1983 5 years ago

      Interesting lens, well done!

    • profile image

      Matt_Lowe 5 years ago

      Perfect timing. We just inherited some land with a couple small barns on it. Although I'm sure they can even be restored at this point.

    • shreeve21 profile image

      shreeve21 5 years ago

      love this! It is a dream of my wife and I to restore and old barn some day. Great tips.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      I have a few old barn boards that were given to me, and the wood lives on in 'new'birdhouses. Sadly, many of the older barns in our area are disappearing or falling into disrepair as the old-time farmers pass on and their land sold off.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love this site! I have an old barn on my centennial farm that I would love to restore for my grandchildren.

    • profile image

      Edwinrocks 5 years ago

      Nice Lense....Thanks For Sharing...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a barn built in 1917 its in pretty good shape, It still has alot of the orignal wooden shingles. It was damaged by a storm last year. I would love to know if theres any kind of grant to help me fix the damage. I live in Tennessee.You can email me at elcj33@aol.com if you have any information. Thank you.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      This is really a great lens. I am going to feature it in my lens: Old barns are heritage icons...

      Thank you for sharing this great information! I grew up in Iowa, recently spent 15 years in Kansas... I feel much as you do about these old barns! ;-)

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      I definitely have a thing about old barns. I'm fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of them to see on a Sunday drive. Great lens!

    • profile image

      brynimagire 5 years ago

      Nice sense and information ! Great lens!

    • puppyprints profile image

      puppyprints 5 years ago

      Some of my best memories as a kid is playing in my friend's families barns....jumping off hay stacks and all the fun stuff kids do. Save the Barns!

    • cathywoodosborn profile image

      cathywoodosborn 5 years ago

      Love this lens! How I miss the old barns that 'used to be' all along the roadsides when I was growing up in Texas. It was a great disappointment to me when the old Kinsey barn finally gave up a couple of years ago. It was a large one in Coryell Co., built by my second great grandpa, Elisha. Thanks for a great lens.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      I just love old barns. I love the history, the lines, the old stuff you find inside...our property in Utah had a big old barn and we found out it used to be the train station and had been moved to the property about 50 years before we bought it. It was so interesting! :) Great lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel!