The construction of the Round Barn
When round barns started to appear in Indiana, Purdue University, the state's leading agricultural school, opinion of them was very low. They declared that “round barns were a peculiarity; built to suit the whims of owners. A barn originally constructed to fill a definite need and well suited to do that need, may become unsuited to future needs through changed conndition, changed in operator, or changes in type of farming." 1
There may be some truth in this statement. Round barns were very usual and their height and size alone would stand out in any Indiana’s cornfield. Because these barns were very expensive to build (anywhere from $200 to $2,000), they would most likely to have been located on wealthier farms. In some circles, a round barn symbolized power and prestige not a place to settle cows and store feed for the winter. And when the farm industry began to change, it would have been costly for the farm to remodel the barn for newer equipment.
But round barns were more than a fad; round barns were an inspiring piece of architectural for the 1900s. Its uniqueness could almost be compared with the Guggenheim Museum of the 1950s. It enhances the beauty that surrounds the area.
And, despite criticisms from agricultural schools, trade magazines and newspapers, the round barns served the farmer’s needs. They were versatile enough to allow worker s the room to do different chores at once. Depending on the farmer's budget, builder used everything from stone, to concrete, to lumber in constructing these barn and because it was round, everyone could work on any piece. When Benton Steele and Frank Detraz began advertising the design for their round barns, they claimed their barn was sufficient enough to hold a feeding room, grain, silage and more than 180 to 200 head of cattle.
The Indiana Farmer review wrote a bad review of the construction of barn in 1903. But instead of becoming upset, the team made greater changes to the construction of their round barns. Among the newer features included:
· A greater capacity with the same amount of material used.
· A roof that would be entirely self-supporting.
· Adding greater strength to the roof and side walls to aid against destruction from wind and tornadoes.
· No sides of ends to bulge out to ensure maximum usage of space.
There was several reasons farmers lost interest in building round barns. Larger farming equipment could not easily be stored in them, especially when owners built their round barns to meet their specifications. By the late 1920s, farm prices were dropping, and with the Great Depression not far behind, few farmers had money to build anything. By the 1940s, manufactured barns were cheap and quicker to build.
But even after 100 years, Indiana’s round barns are still a structural wonder.

1 A Round Indiana,

National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form. United States Department of the Interior National Park Service. http://www.in.gov/dnr/historic/adobepdf/roundbarns.pdf
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