Created by: Michele Linn

Amish Acres Round Barn Theater of Northern Indiana

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One notable round barn from Northern Indiana is located at Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana. One may wonder why this barn is considered notable. This particular round barn is part of a retail business. While most round barns are located on family farms, this round barn is located on a historic eighty acre farm and heritage resort that includes a restaurant , gift shops, tours, and a theater in the round barn.

Amish Acres external image quilts_on_fence_150.jpgis a resort that takes the visitor on a journey through
the past. Based on the Amish culture, Amish Acres
turns back the clock to what life was like at the turn of
the century. Visitors can sample food from yesteryear,
take guided tours of the farm, visit nostalgic gift shops,
purchase old-fashioned wares, and so much more.
Additionally,Amish Acres presents a different kind of
entertainment. This is a theater in a round barn. The
story of the Amish Acres Round Barn Theater begins in 1991.

Read the article below to learn about this unusual round barn in Northern Indiana

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Round Barn on family farm
before relocation to present day
Amish Acres site.(Aerial view, 1911)

The Story of the Round Barn at Amish Acres

Article provided by: Amish Acres at

"When Richard Pletcher, President of Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana, arrived at his desk on Wednesday, July 10, 1991, in the usual pile of phone messages was a memo to call Shelley Schrome about a round barn. A return call discovered that the Schromes, B.J. and Shelley and their one-year-old daughter, Cary, owned
an eighty-year- old round barn on their property in Marshall County along the Goshen-Plymouth Indian Trail near the Lake of the Woods, west of Bremen, Indiana. The Schromes had recently sold their remodeled and enlarged country house and were planning to move back to Dallas where they had previously resided. The purchaser did not want the responsibility for the aging round barn on the property and gave the Schromes the responsibility of disposing of it.
external image round_barn_stripping_shingles.jpgRather than burn it to the ground with the help of the local fire department, they were interested in donating it to someone who would move the barn and relocate it for future generations. The Schromes knew of the endangered status of round barns. Fulton County, directly south of Marshall County, has more round barns than any county in America; however, its inventory of twenty of these unique rural structures has shrunk in half in the last two decades. Each year the Round Barn Festival draws thousands to enjoy the inherent beauty of the remaining structures.
external image round_barn_new_shingles.gifThe Agriculture departments of the University of Illinois and Purdue University were strong promoters of the round barn and its efficiencies during the turn of the century. So the round barn built in 1910 by Fred Aker on his farm was more than a novelty to his neighbors. Round barns raised from delicate square edged stock greatly contrasted with the heavy hand hewed timber barns of their neighbors and soon became more than efficient. Their gracefulness and self-supporting domed roofs which often rose move than 50' to the usual crowning cupola provided a soaring reminder of the beauty of man's ability to design and build such structures.
Today the barn no longer houses the herd of milk cows nor the stables of horses or the mow of hay and straw. The silo sits empty and the clay tile milk house addition has been stripped of the cream separator's working parts. As with most barns in Indiana a basketball goal is nailed to the siding ten feet off the ground. Now retired hay forks and double trees are nailed above the door as reminder of the original purpose and status of the barn.
external image round_barn_steel_frame.gifIt was over breakfast in Amish Acres restaurant Saturday morning at 7:30 that the deal was struck with the Schromes for Amish Acres to dismantle and move the barn. Monday morning consultation calls went out to Robert Holdeman, the architect from Traverse City, Michigan, who has worked with Amish Acres since its inception in 1968 creating the master plan which is still current and being followed today; to Frank Hurdis, the State Historic Preservation Officer, to Laura Thayer, historic preservation consultant; to Mary Humstone, in charge of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Barn Again program; to Todd Geiger, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana . The Nappanee Public Library put the Indiana State Library on the prowl for publications and references on round barns.
A research trip was made to Stratford, Ontario, to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Architect Holdeman and Pletcher and pc repair
their wives, Jane and Susie, attended five plays in four days, took a backstage tour of the Festival Theatre and a warehouse tour of the properties and costumes. During this trip, Mike Yoder and his crew from Amish Acres were carefully measuring and diagramming the existing structure so that the architecture and engineering work could proceed without delay.
On September 11, Pletcher met with Ivan Hochstetler, an Amish harness maker, who specialized in dismantling old barns and reconstructing them, at the dining table under kerosene lantern light to discuss the project. Ivan and his ever changing crew of Amish farmer-carpenters restored Amish Acres original buildings and erected two barns and two log houses at Amish Acres over the years. Ivan had recently helped relocate another round barn at the Fulton County Museum .
Dismantling began in September, punctuated with the removable of the cupola by crane four weeks later. Siding, rafters, wall studs, and roof sheeting were all cleaned of nails on the site then banded together to be moved by truck to the new location at Amish Acres. Plans were quickly drawn, corrected and submitted to the State of Indiana for a foundation release so that excavation and foundations could be proceeding at the same time as the barn's removal.
external image round_barn_stee_dome.gifAfter consideration of several possible uses for the reconstructed building the only valid use was as Amish Acres Theater, where the sixth year production of
Plain and Fancy would open
May 1, 1992. Plain and Fancy is a Broadway musical play written in 1955 which opened at the Mark Hellinger theater and ran for 468 performances. Because it is set among the Amish area of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, it fits well into the interpretation of Amish Acres historic restoration. Now Amish Acres has performed over 3,000 performances using a professional repertory company chosen from national auditions held in New York, Greensboro, Chicago , Memphis, North Carolina, St. Louis and Indianapolis. Over fifteen hundred actors and actresses are auditioned to fill the nine parts at Amish Acres for each year's six month run.
Designed to seat 375 persons on two levels and a balcony, the newly reconstructed round barn features a proscenium stage with fly space. Separate theatre lighting and sound consultants were contacted to begin designing systems for the challenging round barn space and the enlarged production of Plain and Fancy. Unique solutions were required to solve the structural and insulation requirements of a new theater while maintaining the historic round barn's character. A novel thirty two ton steel tube framework has been computer designed by the engineers from which the original barn is virtually suspended. New studs and rafters surround the original barn encompassing the steel structure within it. The solution allows the barn to be comfortably temperature controlled.
The barn's natural acoustics come from the exposed framing lumber which will provide a baffling effect. A six foot wide connector will isolate the round barn from the new forty foot square lobby, complete with new restrooms, gallery space and bus unloading canopy constructed from the round barn's central core timbers" (Amish Acres , Nov. 1991).

Present day pictures of Amish Acres

-Prior to relocation in 1991-
(Location:Plymouth-Goshen Trail near Bremen, Marshall County, IN.)
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Picture provided by:

The Amish Acre site

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Picture provided by:

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Picture provided by: Amish Acres