Created by: Vivian Lawhead
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In the early 1800's, farmers in the eastern United States began experimenting with new and better barn designs. In 1826 in a Shaker community at Hancock, Massachusetts, farmers came up with a revolutionary idea--"the model of efficiency", as they described it. They believed it was not only an ideal dairy barn, but much easier to clean because of the elimination of corners, and even better, no corners for which the Devil to hide.
As is often the case, these Eastern innovations made their way Westward, and soon round barns began popping up all over the midwest.

Ask most native midwesterners if they have a barn story, and you'll hear stories as diverse as the people themselves. Days of hard work, visits to grandmas, farm animals, haunted barns, and more will come to mind. Mention round barns, and you'll know you've found some sentimental favorites among the historic-minded locals.

A trip to Indianapolis has so much more to offer than beautiful sports arenas, shopping districts, museums, and restaurants. Why not grab an adventurous friend and wander the surrounding counties for a day of history--Explore the ROUND BARNS!



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Begin your trip in Tipton County at the newly restored Kelley Agricultural Museum. (the same Kelley as in IU School of Business) Both the home and barn (circa 1914) have been restored. (550 N. @ US 31, Sharpsville, IN)

Now travel SW to Montgomery County where you can visit two round barn sites. Continue your trip to Sugar Creek Township near Darlington where you'll find an unusual 54 X 56 foot barn with a six sided cupola, circa 1914. The roof which is made of heavy metal sheeting in the only one of its kind in Indiana. (CR700E N. 2.8 miles from Darlington, E. on CR750N 1.0 miles, N. on CR800E 0.9 miles, E. on CR850N (Bowers Rd.) 0.3 miles to the barn on the S. side of the road at 38 E 850N )
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Next, travel on US 231 N., just 1.2 miles from the junction with I74 just north of Crawfordsville. This barn closely resembles the Chicago Wrecking House Company's "Round Barn Design No. 206", which was advertised in the Indiana Farmer and other agricultural newspapers between 1910 and 1915. Though the original barn was covered with wood, aluminum siding now covers the barn.
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Just one county west you'll find Parke County...home of Indiana's covered bridges AND round barns. At one time there were 8 round barns in Parke County, but time and weather have taken their toll, and only 2 remain. One, the Mershon-Hill barn, was built near 1910. This is a small, circular barn in the town of Bloomingdale. The barn is thought to have been constructed by William Hill, the builder of the first round barn in the Carthage, IN area. Hill was a university professor at the University of Chicago and introduced the idea of the round barn to brothers in the Bloomingdale area around 1900. Hill was the leader of the Bloomingdale Academy and promoted the round barn in the area. His niece was a recent owner of the barn. (In Bloomingdale, Penn Township. Main St. S. 0.2 miles (2 blocks) from jct with Smith St. in Bloomingdale, W. on unnamed street 0.05 miles (300') to the barn on the S. side of the road)
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Also remaining in Parke County is a round barn believed to be the first true-circular barn constructed in Indiana. This barn very closely resembles a round barn built in 1889 by Franklin H. King of the University of Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station.
(SE of Lodi, Liberty Township. Take one of the roads in Lodi S. 0.05 miles from jct with IN234, SE on W1240N (it'll curve S.) 0.8 miles to the barn on the W. side of the road. )

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Grab a snack and then head east to Shelby County where you'll see a beautiful example of a twelve-sided barn near Waldron, IN.
This barn has a gable-roofed dormer and a driveway through the middle. A silo once stood next to the barn, but was destroyed years ago in an Indiana storm. The lumber used for this barn was cut locally and hauled to a local sawmill. (SW of Waldron, Noble Township. CR600E S. 1.0 miles from jct with Washington St. (CR500S) in Waldron, W. on CR600S 2.2 miles, S. on CR375E 1.0 miles, E. on CR700S 0.2 miles to the barn on the N. side of the road at 3994)
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There's no reason to rush home when you could end your night by sleeping in an original round barn. Drive north to McCordsville in Hancock County and spend the night at the Round Barn Bed & Breakfast. While there, the owners will give you a map of the local round barns of interest, including a barn built in 1916 that has been coverted into a beautiful residence, a barn in Littleton that helped initiate the round barn craze in Indiana, and a beautiful octagonal barn built in 1890. Enjoy your barn wandering AND your night in the barn!


DRIVING ROUTE





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