'Barn Again! Preservation Workshop
designed to help save structures
to include tour of
Cravenhurst barn on Madison hilltop
(September 2012) From the outside, the Cravenhurst
Barn appears to have seen better days. But, head up the narrow, wood
stairway to the spacious upper floor, and the years melt away.
The high, vine-covered walls, solid wood floor and open windows of the
second story take visitors back in time. Louis Shields, steward of the
barn, motions to the large silo, grain bins and chutes for grain and
by Brandilyn Worrell
Shields is the caretaker of
the Cravenhurst Barn, located behind
the Moose Lodge on Michigan Road.
This chute sends grain to the first floor where
they kept mules and horses. This other one goes to the basement for
feeding the cattle, he says.
As he explains how the special features of the barn eased chores, visions
of cows and horses munching on hay in the still-present mangers while
work-hands mucked out the stalls fill the imagination. Each facet points
to the experiences of the early settlers.
We need people to join us in saving this barn, says Shields.
This is our history.
Any drive through the country features rolling hills, corn fields, and
barns. Lots of barns. Rhonda Deeg, Director of Programs for Historic
Madison Inc., notes, Barns have been critical to rural life. Barns
were typically the first structure built on a new farmstead. Families
would settle for a small, rustic shack for sleeping; the first focus
was a tight, well-built barn to protect equipment and livestock.
Yet, what happens when the well-built barn begins to deteriorate or
cant fit a new tractor?
A workshop is being planned from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 14-15 called
Barn Again! Host Indiana Landmarks has designed the workshop
to help barn owners maximize use of vintage barns and historians appreciate
barns unique contribution to historic understanding.
On Friday, speakers will cover various aspects of barn history, restoration
and adaptive use. Friday concludes with a visit to local carriage barns
and the Saddletree Factory in downtown Madison. On Saturday, attendees
will travel to five local barns to explore the range of techniques used.
Cost of the workshop is $45 for members of Indiana Landmarks and $60
for non-members. The two-day package includes lunch at the Moose Lodge
and features a tour of Cravenhurst Barn, the focus of historic preservation
efforts. Fridays session will take place at the West Street Art
Center in Madison. Saturdays tour will begin at the Broadway Fountain.
Duncan Campbell, 67, long-time preservationist and retired Director
of Graduate Studies in Historic Preservation at Ball State University,
will offer his life-time of insights into both restoring and adapting
aging farm structures. Campbell boasts extensive experience in historic
preservation of farm structures.
Campbell put this experience to use when he purchased a farmstead near
Bloomington, Ind., which came with an 1850s-era barn that was near collapse.
Most people told me to just tear it down and put up a pole barn,
But Campbell wasnt satisfied with that option. Nor did he have
the funds to fully restore the barn to its original condition.
He devised a strategy to save significant aspects of the structure while
putting it to modern use at a fraction of the cost of restoration. Thats
what Ill discuss in the workshop, he said. Some consider
only two options tear down or fully restore. Theres
a range of other options. People who attend the workshop will learn
how to adapt old buildings to practical uses for today while keeping
the best from the past. Ill show people strategies for saving
Deeg stresses the importance of saving the buildings. These barns
contain history we cant get anywhere else. Barns tell us about
the wood used, the geographic area, and the history of the people. They
offer clues into the different ethnicities of the people who located
The German barns are very different than the Danish. The techniques
for building these barns are written only in the handiwork of the builders
not in any diaries or documents. History is written in the
wood, glass, and metal of the barn and how these were put to use. If
we lose the structures, we lose the history.
Other speakers include Rick Collins, master timber framer of Trillium
Dell Timberworks. He will share his insights on traditional timber frame
techniques and on rehabbing barns for adaptive use. Dr. Darrin Rubino,
biology professor at Hanover College, will demonstrate methods of dating
barns. Deeg and Anne Fairchild, Director of Education at Lanier Mansion
State Historic Site, will discuss the historic connections of barns.
Finally, Betty Manning, owner of Stream Cliff Farms in nearby Commiskey,
Ind., will describe how she adapted older buildings for a modern tea
room and winery.
Saturday features hands-on exploration of local barns most
significantly Cravenhurst. This barn is a storehouse for local
history, says Deeg.
The original farm was owned by J.F.D. Lanier, who gave the property
to his daughter, wife of John Cravens. Cravens served not only as state
senator but also as engineer of the incline for the Madison Railroad.
The stones forming the first story of the barn are believed to have
come from the excavation of the incline. There is also evidence bolts
from the railroad were used in the construction. The barn is connected
to two major families of Madison. The barns construction is very
unique with the lower story of stone, the upper story of wood, and the
archways. It was made both as a good looking architectural piece and
a solid barn. This is a special part of Madisons history,
Shields hopes Barn Again! will sell Madisonians on saving
Cravenhurst. About 20 years ago, Shields tried to buy the barn. He planned
to tear it down the reconstruct it on his farm. When the Moose Lodge
opted to keep the barn, Shields spearheaded efforts to restore it.
If I cant have it, I can at least work on getting it ready
for others, says Shields. He, along with other Moose Lodge members,
anticipates restoring the barn for use by Boy Scout Troop 721 and as
a tour stop to educate the public about the history captured in the
structure. Shields said he hopes Barn Again! brings Cravenhurst
back to life.
Register for the Barn Again!
workshop at www.barnagainmadison.evenbrite.com.
Back to September 2012