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Despite the rich stock of historic barns in the Wisconsin landscape, we see fewer attempts to save them. The threats to these buildings are many, including urban growth and its associated roadway expansion, improper maintenance and upkeep, and new construction techniques, materials, and design. The University of Wisconsin-Extension, along with the Wisconsin Historical Society, are spearheading a multifaceted approach aimed at saving many of Wisconsin's historic agricultural buildings. The Wisconsin Barn Preservation Program is aimed at both addressing public concerns and drawing attention to the importance of preserving the elements of Wisconsin's rural countryside, those elements that make it a unique part of America.

Some of the strategies being pursued by this group include the coordination of regional educational workshops, the production of technical resource materials and the support of non-profit organizations that can help orchestrate efforts to establish grants and other kinds of technical assistance programs aimed at helping barn owners interested in preservation.  

  Recent Postings:  
  • Join us on the afternoon of March 30th to learn how we can work together and address some of the challenges associated with adapting old barns to new uses. As part of the LUV R AG Summit being coordinated by Wisconsin's Agricultural Tourism Association (WATA), this session will bring together owners of old barns serving as venues for weddings, school field trips, business meetings, and other types of ag-tourism to talk to contractors, buildings inspectors, zoning officials, and town, county and state government representatives to identify areas of mutual concern and build consensus on what strategies might provide workable solutions to many of the challenges and impediments associated with these types of projects.

    Follow this link to register for the program.

  • Looking for a corn maze, pumpkin-picking, hay ride, or other fall fun? Check out these locations with historic barns below! A printable listing is also available here.
    • Enchanted Valley Acres, Cross Plains. The red gambrel barn was constructed in 1937. Activities include a corn maze, hayrides, and pumpkin picking.

    • Govin's Farm, Menomonie. The lambing barn on the farm is 100 years old, with several additions over the years. Activities include a corn maze and pumpkin picking. This year's corn maze celebrates 100 years of 4-H in Wisconsin.

    • Grampa's Farm, Merrill. The current barn was built in 1932 after a fire in the previous barn. The barn is a hip roof barn with clear span construction.  The farm has been in the family for 110 years and is filled with antique displays of kitchen, living room, milk house, shop with old tools, bedroom and family history display. Activities include corn mazes, pumpkin picking, pony rides, petting zoo and more.

    • Mulberry Lane Farm, Sherwood. The 1881 barn features tamarack beams and is often used for weddings and other gatherings. Fall events at the farm include pumpkin picking, petting zoo, and hay rides.

    • Porter's Patch, Navarino. The barn was built in 1910 with a stone foundation. It often features different types of barn quilts. Farm activities include a corn maze, pumpkin picking, and hay rides.

    • Schairer's Autumn Acres, Birnamwood. The stone foundation of the barn was built in 1931 and the upper wood structure was raised in a single day in 1932. The barn is the last remaining structure of the farm's original buildings. It often features barn quilts. Activities include horse-drawn wagon rides, corn maze, and pumpkin picking.

    • Schuster's Farm, Deerfield. Schuster's Farm features a round barn with a limestone foundation, built in 1903 by Scandinavian builder Lewis Lendborg. It is the only round barn still standing in Dane County. Farm activities include corn mazes, pumpkin picking, hay rides, petting zoo, and haunted forest.

    • The Little Farm, Malone. The farm features the original barn, built around 1890 from timber from the local woods. Farm activities include apple and pumpkin picking and a corn maze.

  • Save the date for our upcoming workshop: "Preserving Our Rural Heritage One Building - One Board - One Story at a Time"! June 6-8, 2014, at Agricultural Heritage and Resources, Inc., Kewaunee, WI. This workshop focuses on all aspects of preserving our rural heritage through its many barns and other structures. The event includes Heritage Dinner with author and keynote speaker, Suzi Parron, tour of Kewaunee County restoration projects and more. Event includes 8 workshop sessions covering structure repairs, restoration, preservation and more on Saturday. More information on breakout session topics and registration is available at the Agricultural Heritage and Resources Events site.

  • Click here to see Ag Day's May 16 edition of Great American Barns. The segment announces this event and features Joe and Jerry Ratajczak's octagonal barn in Door County.
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  • 18-month Barn Calendar Now Available!

    CalendarIn October of 2009, UW-Extension helped organize a tour of older barns in Portage County. Following that event, some of the local organizers decided that the area was losing so many of its older barns that they should photograph them and collect pertinent information about each building as a permanent record. Over the course of just a few weeks volunteers collected photographs of all 1,516 barns in the county.

    As an outgrowth of this effort, an 18-month calendar incorporating some of those photographs has been produced. These calendars can be purchased for $10. Simply mail a check made out to: Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin, Inc. and mail them to:

    Portage County Barn Calendar Project
    c/o Chuck Law
    229 Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    More information about the Portage County Barns Project can be found on their website at: http://www.fliben.com/Barn_Project/index.html

  • Looking for a barn to serve as an event venue? Check out our list of barn venues!

  • We've updated our list of barns contractors!


  Archived Posts:  
  • On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, the Concord Historical Society offered a program on barn preservation. For more information, visit our events page.

  • Vote for The 1903 Chase Stone Barn in Dwell's Rethinking Preservation contest!

    About the contest (via Dwell): Rethinking Preservation
  • We believe that designing for the modern world begins with honoring the precedents of the past. So we joined forces with Sub-Zero to conceive a contest dedicated to rethinking preservation and you delivered! We received dozens of entries and now it’s time to vote! Here’s how it works. We post for popular vote and a panel of judges selects the winner from the top ten that receive the most votes. We’ll donate $10,000 to a worthy preservation organization and the winning architectural do-gooder receives a wine storage unit from Sub-Zero. To get in the preservation spirit read our special digital issue Rethinking Preservation presented by Sub-Zero.
    About the Barn:
    Chase Stone BarnThe small rural Town of Chase (population 3005) is working hard to raise funds to preserve one of the last surviving all-fieldstone barns in the country. The stone barn was built in 1903 and is on the State and National Register of Historic Places. In 2007, the Town of Chase purchased the stone barn so they could protect it and make it the focal point of their new Chase Stone Barn Park. Once restored, the town will start the next phase of their project, which is to make the stable area into a rustic museum which will educate people about the early settlers from the area, and also about the geology of the stones. The town would eventually like to hold events inside the barn. The Stone Barn Committee is currently in the last leg of their fundraising campaign. If they can raise $287,000 by June 30, 2012, they will receive a grant of $143,000 from the Jeffris Family Foundation in Janesville, WI. To date they have risen over $204,000, but still have a long way to go to reach their June deadline, which is fast approaching. Being awarded this grant will help the town get closer to their goal, and also bring much needed attention to the project. Wisconsin has lost over 83% of the original barns that once dotted our scenic landscape - the very symbol of Wisconsin. This is not just about preserving an old barn - it's about preserving an important part of Wisconsin history and paying tribute to the hard working men and women that helped build this great state. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been helping guide the town with their project since 2006. They are hopeful that once this preservation project is complete, it will be an example for other communities across the state, and beyond. Thank you for considering our application to help preserve a cornerstone of Wisconsin history. For more information about the Chase Stone Barn, please visit www.townofchase.org or the barn's page on Facebook.
  • Forestry Forum LogoThanks to Jeff Brokaw with the Forestry Forum, another valuable resource is available to help address your barn preservation questions. Two new sections have been added to the Forum including:

    where you can post a question, share an idea or simply tell a story or post a photograph of your barn and receive feedback from professional barn preservationists, barn owners and enthusiasts. Anyone can see and read any of the threads, but in order to post a new thread, comment on an existing thread, or send messages, you must register as a member, receive confirmation, and then log-in. To post a photo, you must upload the image to your own photo gallery, then insert it into your post. Posting a link is okay as long as it is not a photo sharing site.

  • On August 7, 2010, barn enthusiasts from around the world had an opportunity to visit two Green County barns during a virtual simulcast broadcast over the Internet. The video below (NOW WITH CLOSE CAPTIONING) features these two cantilevered forebay barns.

  • Click this link to monitor how one Wisconsin barn videographer is using an innovative website to “kick start” fundraising for his next project!

  • Check out Janesville's Square-Rule Timber-Framing Workshop, coming up in November 2010!

  • Register now for the upcoming Trempealeau County Barn Tour on September 18th 2010!

  • round barns cover
    Read the recently released "Barns Without Corners - Round Barns of Vernon County"

  • June 4th WGN segment features the new book “Wisconsin Barns”

  • May 13th Wisconsin Public Radio segment features the new book “Wisconsin Barns”

  • American History Magazine Looking for Wisconsin Barns Needing Restoration


All material Copyright© 1997-2014 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, doing business as the Division of Cooperative Extension, University of Wisconsin-Extension. All rights reserved.

If you have any questions or comments about the Wisconsin Barn Preservation Program Web Site e-mail Chuck Law at chuck.law@uwex.edu.

If you have trouble accessing this page, require the information in an alternative format or wish to request an accommodation because of a disability contact us at lgc@uwex.edu

This page was last updated March 16, 2015 9:29 AM