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Grandson of a Builder
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Grandson of a barn builder
Frank Retter is the grandson of Fred Retter, who built two round barns in Randolph County, IN. Along with the knowledge he had of the barns from being the grandson of the builder, Mr. Retter was also a great help since he had used one of the barns his whole farming life. The farm and barn have managed to stay in the family since it was built.
The first barn that Fred built is no longer standing, but is featured in the book,
A Round Indiana
. His second barn, which is also in the book, is still standing and that is one featured in the pictures on this page.
of current barn.
This barn was built in 1906, which makes it exactly 100 years old this year. Mr. Retter was very proud of this fact. The barn was made mostly of timber from the farm. They actually set up a saw mill where they were building the barn, cut down the trees, and then cut them into the size and shape they needed.
This is a very large barn, and was built for the raising and care of livestock. The barn is 66 feet 8 inches in diameter with a circumference of about 209 feet. These measurements do not include the entrance to the barn which extends out from the barn 32 feet.
Even with most of the lumber coming right off of the farm it was still an expensive barn to build. The barn cost $1,400 to build, which was a great deal of money at that time. However, the farmers who could afford it considered it worth the extra money, because the shape of this barn greatly reduced the day to day labor involved in raising and caring for livestock.
The roofs on these barns were free standing. This means that when they were built that there were no support posts for the roof needed in the whole barn. The roof only touched the round exterior walls. This gave more space for storing hay.
You will notice that this barn has a cupola. The first round barn Mr. Retter built didn’t have this feature, and a loft full of
hay was lost when it rotted from lack of ventilation so this was a feature that he added on his second barn. Also, as I mentioned before, the entrance to the second barn is 32 feet in length. This is also a change from the first barn which had an entrance of only 16 feet. Using the first barn he learned from his mistakes and added these things in the second barn to make it function better. Obviously this was a success, as that barn is still a working barn today.
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