of horses and cows… the barns in which they sleep

Last week I had the chance to be in Illinois and Indiana looking for and taking pictures of… what I call “interesting” farm barns.

One of my favorite people (I call him a “life friend”) John Otto, who lives in Champaign, Illinois… had sent to me a book about farm barns in his state which stirred my interest to the farm buildings near the town of Macomb.  Macomb is toward the west side of Illinois about half way from top to bottom — John and I were headed toward there by 6 o’clock Wednesday morning.

I have some ongoing projects with farm barns (photographing and documenting) and thought I knew all about the various building and roof styles until… I saw the images in John’s book (Barns Of Illinois by Larry Kanfer, a Champaign, Illinois photographer).  It showed a completely different and unlisted building style which I just had to go find out about — it’s a barn building with two gables.  A building’s gable is the area below the roof and above the square or rectangular part (the “box” part of the building) — regular barns have just one gable, sometimes one and “a half” but never TWO… These do…  it is like two barns being built on top of each other, crosswise.   Check these first three photos…





The Macomb area has a half dozen of these barns and used to have more — many of the barns are not being used anymore and slowly “falling down”.  One crossed-gable barn still pictured and listed on the area barn trip map was not there when John and I found the site — it was just a pile of old boards. 

Most, if not all, these crossed-gable beauties were built by barn builder, Newt Willis near the beginning of the twentieth century.

The county, McDonough County, is loaded with picturesque and interesting farm barns and promotes them through the local visitors and convention bureau.  Their website is:  www.macomb.com/macvb.  This is Illinois farm country at it’s corn and soy bean raisin’ best.

You can click on any of these images to enlarge.






John and I drove and searched the Macomb area all day Wednesday and then toward evening drove back east to the area of Illinois where John grew up… south of Champaign about 30 miles (the Arthur and Arcola areas) for the same barn search again on Thursday.  This area has an abundance of farm barns, many belonging to Amish families and most which are very much in use and NOT deteriorating.  I expected these barns to be of different style and build than the ones in Western (non-Amish family owned) Illinois.  They are… and following this paragraph are some examples.  Some differences seem obvious to me in that the Amish owned barns are typically larger, predominately use the straight forward, less ornamental roof style identified as simply “Gable” and are painted either basic red or basic white.  As I see it, these are “working barns”, an integral part of today’s family farm.









John and I had good success finding interesting barns and farm scenes as well as childhood landmarks and family (his brother and my first cousin) and we both had some of this country’s very best biscuits and sausage gravy at Yoder’s Restaurant in Arthur.


Thursday afternoon and evening then, I drove the 200-plus miles to Northern Indiana (Elkhart and Kosiosko Counties) to my family and hometown area where I expected to find more (and hopefully unique) farm barns.  My effort was to get my mom and my visiting first cousin to go driving the country sides with me looking for Indiana barn buildings.  They agreed and on Monday the three of us headed for Fulton County Indiana (Rochester area) looking for the variety of barns there.  The area has an unusual concentration of round barns.   Here are some Northern Indiana examples…









I had a wonderful time.  I think my mom and cousin did too.  We found a number of nice barns, (three that are round) and had a big lunch (mom & I had smelt fish <yuck>, coleslaw and potato) in downtown Rochester, across the street and katty-corner from the courthouse.

The following white barn with the cross on the silo is one of my all-time favorites…  It’s on the north side of Indiana SR 4 about 2 miles west of SR 13, between Goshen & Middlebury.

To summarize… In this short week I got to:

  • See and photograph a barn building style I’d not seen before.
  • See and photograph a good cross section of the building styles used in America.  I will add the cross-gable style to my lists.   (click here for a slide show of all the common barn building styles).
  • I got to look for similarities in the Amish family-use farm barns of Illinois and Indiana, and most of all,
  • I got to travel the countrysides with my mom, my family, and my friends exploring new roads and new places.  We had a great time and I learned some more about farm barns.
  • And… I accumulated images of 70-plus more interesting (to me) farm barns.  I’m on schedule for this year John.  Thanks to you.

Enjoy them I hope.    

Click here to visit my accumulation of farm barn images and info.   Visit often.  Let me know your thoughts.  Give me critique and ideas.   Thanks


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