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This Shaker Round Barn was built in Hancock, Massachusetts in 1826. Made with stone walls that were 21 feet high and the 270 main barn feet round, it boasted that it could hold 52 head of cattle

Purdue University declared that “round barns were a peculiarity, built to suit the whims of owners and, to mince no words, were obsolete. A barn originally constructed to fill a definite need and well suited to that need, may become unsuited to future needs through changes in conditions, changes in operator or changes in type of farming. ”1
There may be some truth in this statement. Round barns were very unusual 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.
But the round barn was more than a fad; it was an inspiring piece of architecture 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. These barns could be constructed from a variety of material, from lumber to stone. There are no two round barns that are the same because their were built to the farmer's requirements.
When Benton Steele and Frank Detraz began advertising the design for their round barn, they claimed their barn was sufficient enough to hold a feeding room, grain, silage and more than 180 to 200 head of cattle.
In a rebuttal to an Indiana Farmer review in 1903, the team made greater changes to the way their constructed 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.
· Great strength of 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. John T. Hanou, A Round Indiana; Round Barns in the Hoosier State. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, Indiana. 1993.
2. Round Barn blueprint courstey of Eric Sloane, Eric Sloane’s An age of barns. Funk & Wagall: New York. 1967.

Reference:

Hanou, John T. A Round Indiana; Round Barns in the Hoosier State. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, Indiana. 1993.
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
Sloane, Eric. Eric Sloane’s An age of barns. Funk & Wagall: New York. 1967.
Argan Maroc