The Disappearing American Barn

Historic barns are disappearing across the country, along with the way of life they represent. But a growing number of towns and citizen groups are working to preserve them.
September 3, 2008, 10am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Old barns are rapidly disappearing from the nation's landscape: As few as 2 million may be left, down from 6 million in the 1930s. And with every downed barn, bits of the nation's story are lost.

'Up until the 20th century, this was a nation of farmers,' says Jim Lindberg, who heads Barn Again!, a project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 'Farms are at the core of our nation's identity, and the barn is the center of that identity.'

Within the past 50 years, the amalgamation of land, the mechanization of farming, and an exodus of rural residents to cities left many barns unused, says Charles Leik, president of the National Barn Alliance, a preservationist group.

'In my area [Michigan], everyone used to keep dairy cows. Now there aren't any. Everyone is 'green' farming: corn, soybeans. Barns became largely superfluous,' he says.'"

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Published on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 in The Christian Science Monitor
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