Five barns in Story County are being showcased in this weekend’s Iowa Barn Foundation tour. The barns are part of the 2015 All-State Barn Tour, which highlights historic restored barns throughout Iowa. Barns on the tour will be open to the public Sept. 26 and 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, for free, self-guided tours.
The Apland/Freeland barn was originally built in 1875 on land that was homesteaded by Norwegian immigrant Ole Apland. The barn is located at 57304 Highway 210, Cambridge. Take Highway 210 east of Interstate 35.
"You cannot miss the large red barn on the crest of a small hill," said Margaret Nelson, great-great-granddaughter of Ole Apland.
The peg barn is 95 feet long and 40 feet side with three levels. It has a walkout basement, original stanchions and farrowing pens. It was built by Jens Russell of Cambridge. Margaret’s mother, Flora Freeland, started the restoration process in 2003. It had fallen into disrepair after the 1984 death of Margaret’s father, Kermit Freeland.
"Looking south from the huge open doors, you can soak in the sights of the expansive rolling hills of Iowa and the peaceful nature of this lifestyle," Nelson said. "Inside the barn, you will be awed by the spectacular view of the structure of the beams crossing the heights of the barn."
The split rock and concrete foundation still retains its nearly perfect lines 140 years after its construction. Also, the original school bell from the one-room school down the road now resides on the property.
Nelson said the barn was a place for her and her sisters, Esther and Diane, and brother, Mark, to let their imaginations run free. For the kids, the barn was a big top, a spaceship or a fort.
"The barn was a fantastic playground, as well as a place for daily chores," she said.
Over the years, it was home to a variety of animals: horses, cows, sheep, pigs, goats, fish and chickens.
"Our family has owned this land and barn for six generations," Nelson said. "The world has changed, but so much about this place has not. There is something enduring about a barn, something that reminds our family of everyone who came before us, and everyone who will come later."
Just outside Slater, Wayne Rimathe’s barn was originally built in 1929 by his uncle Ed. The 30-by-50-foot structure was constructed by local craftsmen, Sanford Lande and Genz Mehl. The Rimathe barn is located at 51349 Highway 210, Slater. It’s the first farm east of Slater on Highway 210.
Over the decades, the barn has seen many types of livestock: farrowed hogs, beef cattle, horses and milk cows. There is still hay stored in the haymow. And the weather vanes on the cupolas hint of the type of livestock currently cared for in the barn – Rimathe’s herd of 13 llamas.
Decades of use and years of Iowa’s weather are bound to cause deterioration to the mostly wood structures. "There’s a point where you have to decide, do you want to tear them down or do you want to save them?" Rimathe said.
He wanted to save his. So he applied for a matching grant from the Iowa Barn Foundation and went to the work of restoring his big red barn. He hired local carpenter Denny Mitchell to help with the project. "Denny did a really amazing job," Rimathe said. "We couldn’t find wood siding that would work, so Denny bought a router and made the siding from 1-by-6 pine boards."
Pat Cole and Jerry Bickelhaupt, both of Huxley, scraped and power-washed and painted the barn the quintessential shade of red.
The renovated barn isn’t the only original building on the farm that Rimathe has brought back to its initial condition. He has also restored the corn crib, chicken coop, cattle shed (now the llama shed), garage and pump house.
Rimathe encourages barn owners to apply for matching grants from the Iowa Barn Foundation. "Barns have to be 50 years old or older," he said. "And you have to restore the barn to its original materials. There’s no metal siding allowed, and they prefer not to have metal roofs, but they will allow that for the roof."
"Barns are Iowa’s cathedrals," Rimathe said. "It’s important that we don’t tear them all down."
For Rimathe’s project, he will receive $5,000 in matching funds when his barn project is complete. A week ago, there was just some concrete work left to finish.
"I’d like to encourage people to save their barns. Barns are an important part of Iowa’s history, and the Iowa Barn Foundation is very helpful with the grants they offer," Rimathe said. He went so far as to offer to help other barn owners through the grant request process and he can be reached at 515-249-7466.
Barns near Nevada:Mulcahy Farm – 25623 710th Ave., Colo. Take Highway 30 to Highway 65. Go east on 710th Street, then turn south for a long block. The barn is on the west side of the road. This barn is part of a lovely farmstead owned by Tony Bianchini. The barn was built in 1885 for horses and is on the National Register.Handsaker Barn – 65627 200th, Fernald. The barn is immediately southeast of Fernald. Built in 1875, the square barn is on a farm purchased by the Handsaker family in 1853. The family gave some of their land so the town of Fernald could be created.Twedt Barn – 63645 160th St., Nevada. From the junction of E14 and S14, go north 6 miles to 160th Street. Turn east and go 1.5 miles. This barn has a rounded roof with a hayloft that is free of posts and beams due to 40 two-ply laminate rafters that are used for support. The farm was once owned by Hoyt Sherman, brother of Civil War General William T. Sherman.