Saving a piece of Americana, one historical treasured barn at a time. That is what you will find at the Iowa Barn Foundation’s All-State Barn Tour this weekend September 26 and 27. Many barns on the tour were built in the 1800s by farmers or barn builders and now have been restored with matching grants from the Iowa Barn Foundation. Other property owners received awards of distinction from the foundation for restorations they undertook themselves, like the Jim Boeding Stone Milk house by Decorah.
On the list of barn tours in Winneshiek County is a barn owned by Jim Palmer Sr. and wife Alice. They live at 1206 150th Street by Castalia and last year I had a chance to talk to them and am very excited to meet more people who restored their barns as well.
Check out their website, where you can find barns all across Iowa that have received Iowa Barn Foundation matching grants and learn how you can save your heritage barn. Some farmers won an Award of Distinction from the Iowa Barn Foundation, honoring the homestead owners that restored their barns using their own money and did not receive a grant.
The barn doors open at 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. both days and are a free self-guided tour. This is also a great, fun way to take a family day to travel and educate your family about Iowa’s farming history.
The impressive barn owned by the Palmers continues to give the landscape the feel of days gone by, which is important to Jim Palmer Sr. He understands how important it is to continue to save as many historic barns as possible. “It’s unbelievable how many barns are lost every year, changing our Iowa landscape,” explains the heritage farmer.
As Jim Sr. gives the tour he explains about the barn to the crowd of people. He tells them that the large barn was built in 1921 by Alice‘s grandfather, Charles Linderbaum Sr. It has divided haymow doors on tracks with drive-through for unloading hay. It also has another unique feature of side sliding hay loft doors. Then the family shows how they make apple cider with an old cider press using the apples from the old orchard that stood the test of time.
As you enter the restored barn it feels like you stepped back in time with the gas lights still hanging on the wall near the door. On a table near the entrance is a display of antique tools found when restoring the post and beam barn. Jim found a puzzling object with a half circle pleated iron with a handle on it which read “fluter.” He found out lately that it was used to iron fluted pleats in the cuffs of ladies dresses.
The Linderbaum-Palmer barn is also unique in that it has housed an Ayrshire herd since 1946 (there are very few Ayrshire herds left in the country).
Alice explains her history to the farm, “The barn was constructed by Charles Linderbaum, Sr., which is her grandfather, in 1921 using quarry rock hauled by teams of horses and wagons. Even the mortar was homemade to hold the slab of stone together. Even the wood came from the farm. The oak came from their woods and they set up a portable sawmill right there to saw the logs. Each man was given a new hammer. It took 200-300 men only one day to do the barn raising. Now that is one fabulous Iowa historical tradition to tell your children about! Take the time to wander the countryside and visit with the farmers and learn a little more about out Iowa farming history.