Save an Old Barn: Ideas, Resources and Funding
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 dwindles, more and more we see these forgotten and uncared for barns.
Once it was the showplace of that farm; filled with livestock and supply of hay for the winter. Barns are an important part of our rural architectural heritage. If you have an old barn and are trying to save it, you'll find some useful links and resources below.
People Share Their Memories and Feelings for Old Barns
Brandi 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!"
davenjilli lm - "My good friend just lost their barn that is 100+ years old. They live in the house her husband was raised in here in Southern Idaho. So sad to see the old barn down."
NC Shepherd - "I love old barns. We have several barns that have been repurposed...into a restaurant, a store, a house. Living in the agricultural center of Ohio, I've watched many barns slide into disrepair and eventually disappear. We do have an organization that tries to preserve them, as well as a timber-framing business that helps with restoration. It all comes down to money."
SPhilbrick - "Barns in Maine and other cold climates definitely suffer from the weight of snow and ice. I have a friend with a lovely old barn that you can absolutely feel it's timelessness when you go inside. Unfortunately, it too needs a complete overhaul and she hasn't the resources to restore."
Sam - "We have a old tobacco barn on some property we purchased. We'd like to move it across the street to our place since there's more room and redo it and make it into my jewelry and handbag store."
mrducksmrnot - "I love those old barns and the old timbers used to make them. I also noted with interest the lightning rods you would almost always see on old barns and farmhouses. They are still available and great to have especially in areas like Kansas where lightning storms come often. I'm from the Western NC Mountains and barns are being turned into houses that are really beautiful. Save the Barns was always a community project back in earlier years but folks just don't see the main reason for the barn was a home, shelter, storage place for all the farm animals and food and a great place to get out of the nasty weather for a while.
Barns throughout the country were often used as a billboard so to speak. Either on the side of the barn or the roof. Most advertisers would paint the barn or roof and keep it up for free advertising. We need to get back to the old ways as this would save on all the billboards being constructed."
Diane Cass I love old barns. When I lived in Vermont, the countryside was full of them. One in our town was over 200 years old, made of all hand-hewn timbers. We watched one old, leaning barn fall to its doom, and our neighbors dairy barn burn to the ground one below-zero night. Many people clean them up and turn them into unique homes. It makes me feel sad when something that old and lovingly made is destroyed but makes me happy to see them get a new life.
Moving a NH Barn to the South (Video from Barnwood Builders Series)
Sources for 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.
- The Original Barn Light: Rustic Lighting, Sign Lighting, Wall Sconces, Pendant Lighting, Chandeliers - Made in the USA source for wall sconces, pendant lighting, sign lighting, ceiling fans, chandeliers and The Original Barn Light. BarnLightElectric has many lighting styles; barn lighting, rustic lighting, country, cabin and lodge styles.
- The Barn People - Vintage Barns Dismantled and Reassembled - Feasibility Studies - Consulting - Restoration - Preservation The site includes: Barns Explained, Inventory, Dismantling, Restoration, Reassembly, Completed Projects, Photo Galleries
- Michigan Barn Preservation Network - Barns are economic resources and symbols of our agriculture heritage. They are attractive images on the landscape. The Michigan Barn Preservation Network is committed to the rehabilitation of barns for agricultural, commercial, residential, and public use.
- John High, The Barnsaver - His slogan is "Reclaiming History for America's Future. Recycling Barns Since 1990
Books about Restoring Barns on Amazon - Available from Amazon
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!
Do You Own a Barn?
Vote in the Poll
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!
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. Beautiful Ruins by Timothy Parks
Timothy Parks is raising funds for Beautiful Ruins on Kickstarter! An artist's backroads odyssey to capture the beauty of Maine's old barns...before they disappear!
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
Barn Quilts - What Are They and Where Can You See Them?
Barn quilts are wood quilt blocks that are attached to barns and other buildings as public art. Quite a few areas have established driving tours known as Quilt Trails to get tourists off the Interstate highways and cruising down country roads to see art painted on a barn. Read more about these at Barn Quilts ... Covering Barns Across Rural America.
Places with Barn Quilts to See
- The Barn Quilts of Sac County Iowa - the colorful 8-foot square designs are attached to barns that are 50 years old or more.
- "Way Back When" Barn Quilts
- Green County Barn Quilts
Barn quilts to tour in Green County, Wisconsin.
- Barn Quilt Capital of Iowa-Washington County Iowa
Barn Quilts of Washington County Iowa
Example of a Stone Barn
More Links to Help with Your Restoration - of an old barn
More web pages to help with restoring, dismantling and researching your aging barn.
- Old barns - identifying, restoring, fixing & remodeling plus personal memories from the This Old House site.
- Restoring Your Barn - Questions to Ask before Starting - This helps you sort through some questions and get your thinking straight before starting.
- How to Determine the Age of Wood Beams in a Barn | eHow.com
If you're planning to demolish an old barn, possibly because it has become unstable and unsafe or possibly because you need the acreage for another purpose, it's important to document the barn. There may even be a requirement to do so if it is historic.
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.
- The Barn Journal is dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of traditional farm architecture.
- Magazine: Iowa Barn Foundation is dedicated to preserving Iowa's rural agricultural buildings by giving barn tours and raising money.
- The BARN Again Program is a project put together by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Successful Farming magazine. Check out the advice they offer.
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.
- Historic Barn Grants | Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation
What is the Barns Grant: an historic preservation technical assistance and granting program of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, with funding from the Connecticut General Assembly.
- Historic Barns of Connecticut (a blog)
Check this blog now and then to see if there is any news of funding. Better yet, subscribe to the blog to get regular updates from it.
Georgia - Resources for Saving a Barn in Georgia
- Grants | Historic Preservation Division -- Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Find out about grants available from the state of Georgia for preservation. They did give a grant to repair a barn that was part of a literary site in the state.
Indiana - Resources to Save a Barn in Indiana
- Indiana Landmarks - Rural Preservation
Each year, Indiana Landmarks's Rural Preservation Council honors Hoosiers who show exemplary stewardship of historic agricultural landmarks.
- Indiana Landmarks - Grants and Loans
Preserving historic landmarks requires research, restoration skills, commitment, enthusiasm-and money. Indiana Landmarks designed our grant and loan programs to help local preservation organizations save and restore historic places. We keep the paper
Octagon Barn in Iowa
Iowa - Resources for Saving a Barn in Iowa
- Iowa Barn Savers
Barn Savers find, inspect, preserve, disassemble and assist in transporting antique barns located in NE Iowa to your location - incorporate a piece of American History into your life.
- The Iowa Barn Foundation
Iowa Barn Foundation Web site. Find information about barn preservation and restoration, awards of distinction, matching grants, tax incentives, and farm conservancy.
Kansas - Resources for Saving a Barn in Kansas
- Kansas Barn Alliance
Welcome to the home page of the Kansas Barn Alliance, Inc., a Kansas not-for-profit organized in 2006 to discover, memorialize and preserve the story of rural Kansas, especially barns.
- Find Funding, Kansas State Historical Society
Grants and Incentives Heritage Trust Fund (HTF) Competitive grant program for projects on national and state register-listed buildings Tax Credits Federal and State income tax credits for rehabilitating historic buildings Historic Preservation Fund (
- Schamber Historic Preservation
Saving an old building from the wrecking ball gives us great satisfaction. We have consulted with the Kansas State Historical Society and its' architects on many historical sites in Kansas and worked on five of the states' 17 historical sites.
Maryland - Resources to Save Old Barns in Maryland
- Barn Restoration and Structural Repair
Barn Restoration and Structural Repair
- Tobacco Barns - Preservation Maryland
Southern Maryland Tobacco Barn Initiative The initiative, which will be administered by Preservation Maryland, attempts to comprehensively address the threats facing tobacco barns through funding, public policy, outreach and education, survey, and in
Massachusetts - Resources for Saving a Barn in Massachusetts
- Barn Restoration :: Colonial Barn Restoration - Timber Frame Specialists
Barn Restoration Colonial Barn Restoration specializes in restoring timer frame barns including copulas, roofs, sills, and structural work. They also work on barn conversions.
Resources for Saving a Barn in Michigan
- Michigan Barn Preservation Network (Facebook Group)
This is a group on Facebook with over 500 members. The Michigan Barn Preservation Network is an active state-wide 501(c) 3 organization of barn owners and enthusiasts. MBPN fosters sharing of barn experiences, hosts an annual conference, publishes a
- Michigan Barn Preservation Network
Learn more about this state-wide network.
New York - Resources for Saving a Barn in New York State
- New York State Barn Coalition
New York State Barn Restoration and Preservation Grant Program
A Well Cared for Barn in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania - Resources for Saving a Barn in Pennsylvania
- John High, The Barnsaver (Pennsylvania)
RECLAIMING HISTORY FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE:Recycling Barns Since 1990 - Lots of useful information "A Pennsylvania lawmaker proposes state grants to provide owners with half the costs of restoring pre-1880 barns. The bill by Rep. Mark Keller would estab
- 18th Century Restorations, Inc.
Located in Pottstown, PA., they specialize in period correct restoration and preservation maintenance of historic structures.
- Historic Barn & Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania
Find out about meetings, barn tours and read the newsletter for this organization.
A Texas Barn
Texas - Resources for Saving a Barn in Texas
- Heritage Barns
At Heritage Barns we locate, document, dismantle, and restore fine, 18th and 19th century barns and timber-frame homes for reuse as unique historic residences, offices and work places. We make custom doors, flooring, staircases, trusses and millwork
Vermont - Resources for Saving a Barn in Vermont
- Vermont Division For Historic Preservation - Financing Assistance, Barn Grants
The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation has had a 50/50 matching grants program to assist owners of historic agricultural buildings (barns, corn cribs, sheds, grist mills, etc.) since 1991.
- Welcome To Barn People - We LOVE Barns!
We're glad you dropped by The Barn People. We've been dismantling, restoring and reassembling vintage Vermont barns for over thirty five years.
- Vermont Barn Census
Click Here to see some of the barns we've mapped! A Project of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, University of Vermont Historic Preservati
- Barn Grants | Agency of Commerce & Community Development
Vermont.gov > Historic Preservation > Grants and Financial Agency of Commerce & Community Development
Wisconsin - Resources for Saving a Barn in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin's Historic Buildings of the Wisconsin Historical Society
On this site you can find information on Wisconsin's historic barns, information on proper rehabilitation techniques for historic barns, information about financial assistance available to barn owners, and links to organizations that assist barn owne
- Save a Barn books
Wisconsin Barns Copies ordered here will be signed by the authors. Take a tour of the Barns of Wisconsin with photographer Ernest J. Schweit and writer Nancy Schumm-Burgess. The 80 page book features 107 photos of Wisconsins treasures, and history an
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.
- Federal Tax Credits for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings - Barns
PDF file from the National Park Service
- BARN AGAIN!
When the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Successful Farming magazine launched BARN AGAIN! in 1987, historic barns were considered doomed. Obsolete for modern farming needs and too expensive to maintain as family heirlooms, old barns appe
- National Barn Alliance
The National Barn Alliance is a nation-wide, non-profit organization coordinating these efforts to save America's Historic Barns. Our members are farmers and city dwellers, students, historical groups, timberframers, and lots of people who just love
A research tool and directory of resources for historic preservation and cultural resource preservation. Links to grants and funding for historic preservation.
Campbell's Soup & Old Barns - and other programs to help old barns
- Restoring old barns: Restoring old barns
The Barn Again! program has spiked a renewed interest in preserving the character of rural America by encouraging people to renovate their existing barns instead of building new structures. National Trust for Historic Preservation
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.
I did a lot of grant writing during my career as a library director. Trust me, it helps to read this book before you tackle your first application. After you read this, you'll feel a lot more confident as you start to write requesting funding.
Check at your public library to see if you can borrow this there.
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.
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. I'm amazed at the unique uses for old barns. People are very inventive in converting these into homes or businesses.
- Willow Decor: Historic Barn Restoration - This barn had partially collapsed but the rear part of it was rebuilt. Check out how that project went.
- This Old House Magazine - How To Take One Old Barn and Call It Home - Barns are large spaces with high roofs so when they are turned into living space, it's awesome.
Barn Restoration - Even More Success Stories
- Barn Restoration News Articles Colonial Barn Restoration - Timber Frame Specialists
Barn Restoration News Articles Colonial Barn Restoration specializes in restoring timer frame barns including copulas, roofs, sills, and structural work.
- Trillium Dell-Barn Restoration
Trillium Dell Timberworks dismantled, restored, and re-erected this c. 1870 barn multipurpose barn onto a new bank foundation at a new location. The barn was an early "scientific barn."
See One Barn Restored
People Who Are Saving a Barn - Their Story
- A Barn Raising Experience (Michigan)
Click the images below to see larger photographs with captions. Five years ago, my husband and I bought a farmhouse and dilapidated barn in Homer, Michigan. The house, not more than a shack, needed immediate attention.
- Project to Save a Barn in West Ft Bend County, Texas
Look at what this project is trying to do and how they are working to preserve a barn.
An Old Barn Waiting to Collapse
Barns That Didn't Get Saved
Sad News of Historic Barns Torn Down
- Historic Cedar Falls barn demolished last week - TimesRepublican.com
Central Iowa News from The Times Republican, the source for news, sports and information on Marshalltown and Central Iowa.
- Historic Southborough barn demolished today - Southborough, MA
"It's no longer in use, it's rotting, the roof is leaking and it's now become a liability," Jericho Hill Road resident Dave Johnson said yesterday.
More News of Barns Collapsing
- Outlook Farm owners file suit in barn collapse
A lawsuit filed Thursday has Bradford and Erin Morse seeking more than $200,000 in damages from David D. Parker Structural Restoration. The Brattleboro, Vt., company was in the process of rebuilding the historic structure when it collapsed in Februar
- Wind Causes Further Collapse of Round Barn
Strong winds Thursday may have finished off what Mother Nature began last month on a century-old round barn on Saginaw Road south of Joplin.
for Old Barns
Fundraising Ideas to Save Old Barns
Make a calendar to sell as a fundraiser.
Last week, as part of a project Evans initiated called Artists for Barns, he and 16 artists from around New England set up their easels on the Milstones' property and got to work painting the barn. That is, pictures of the barn.
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.
- Bucks rescue task force preserves historic barn while practicing simulated disaster - Morning Call
Firefighters and other members of a specialized rescue team from Bucks County were in Hilltown Township practicing how to save a building from collapsing. And by it, they were saving history.
Christmas and Old Barns
Decorate Your Barn for the Holidays
Get Ideas for Decorating the Barn for Christmas
Make your barn a destination during the holiday season. Get people to come see the decorations, maybe charge a small admission fee for hot cider and a ride in a horse-drawn wagon.
- Decorating a Horse Barn for Christmas
Decorating a Horse Barn for Christmas. We have a huge boarding barn (for horse).
- MaryJanesFarm Farmgirl Connection - Decorating your barn - Would you think of making an oversized wreath from barbed wire? Check out the other suggestions in this forum.
- Christmas Decorations?? - Baywind Farm Horse Forum - Christmas Decorations?? Why not. Check out their ideas.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Virginia Allain