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Farm Equipment

Tips for historic barn owners: What to do before starting restoration process

Wood beams are salvaged at the Ward-Stafford Barn in Monroe County.
Wood beams are salvaged at the Ward-Stafford Barn in Monroe County.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Do you own a barn that’s in disrepair?

If so, you’re not alone.

Farmers across the Midwest face the hurdle of preserving barns. It’s not easy and it’s not cheap.

During the Indiana Barn Foundation’s virtual barn tour, owners shared advice about how to approach the task.

Anne Lucas, owner of Whippoorwill Hill, shared encouragement to those who don’t know where to begin.

“The advice I would give to anyone who has a barn who doesn’t know what to do with it, would be to reach out the Indiana Barn Foundation,” Lucas said. “Like and join the Facebook page to be a part of that.”

The foundation can provide educational resources and help point barn owners in the right direction.

“The most valuable thing I’ve learned about these projects, both the house and the barn, is really giving yourself time to get to know the space,” said Cathy Spiaggia, owner of Borland Barn. “Don’t feel like you have to know everything up front — all the decisions that have to be made.”

Spiaggia spent weekends living in the barn during restoration, and says they are some of her favorite memories.

“You get such a different sense of space in a barn than in any kind of structure,” she said. “It’s such a valuable experience to be in the space and make decisions as they come up. You get to know the space better.”

Duncan Campbell, board member of Indiana Barn Foundation, agreed that it takes time to get to know a space.

“To homeowners, if you buy a historic place, just move in,” Campbell advised. “Live there. Cook breakfast. Find a place to sleep. Make yourself at home. Get your kids to school. Whatever you need to do without feeling like you have to do it all up front.

“Because until you discover the place for yourself, you’re not going to be able to make the kind of contribution to it that would be meaningful to you, in which case it probably won’t get preserved.”

Learn more at www.indianabarns.org.

Watch the barn tour at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRBCaMXGAyc&feature=emb_title.

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