Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Heartland 3 – Starke Round Barn, Red Cloud, Nebraska

October 9th, 2015

Risk and Ruin at the Starke Round Barn, Red Cloud, Webster County, Nebraska

A Drive Through The Heartland, Part Three

Front Entrance and Second Floor of the Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde. (Click image to see larger.)

Front Entrance and Second Floor of the Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015. (Click image to see larger.)

(Continued from the blog post, “A Drive Through The Heartland 2.”)

Largest of It’s Type in the World

For their time, for any time, many Midwest barns were engineering marvels, especially the large round barns. Round barns do not have any European antecedents like other barn designs. They are entirely an American creation and an important part of American architectural history. Round barns are also the most rare. Less than one fifth of one percent of all barns in the US are round barns.

One of the most impressive designs and largest in the world of its type, the Starke Round Barn near Red Cloud, Nebraska holds together without any nails or pegs, entirely by the weight and balance of the building and the beams of the structure. However, the design of the Starke Round Barn is not the only interesting aspect of its history.

Conrad Starke and Sons Amassed a Fortune in Milwaukee

Interior of Second or Main Floor and Inner Silo, Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde. (Click on image to see large.)

Interior of Second or Main Floor and Inner Silo, Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015. (Click on image to see large.)

The Starke Round Barn story rises and falls with the fortunes of the owners. The builders of the Starke Round Barn, the four Starke brothers, came to Nebraska from Milwaukee, Wisconsin just after the turn of the century. The Starke family had been in engineering and building for many years, constructing ships on the Great Lakes.

Starke family members at the time were known to have attended elite Milwaukee society parties, having amassed a fortune and political influence through various enterprises. They owned shipping companies, tugboat lines and other businesses on Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes.

The Starke Round Barn Historic Site explains that around 1880, Conrad Starke, Sr. and his wife Veronica purchased 400 acres of land in Webster County, Nebraska in the Republican River Valley near what is now Red Cloud. Veronica’s brothers, Gottleib and John Christian Rasser had homesteaded in the area in 1870 after serving in the Civil War.

Old Farm Equipment Inside Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde. (Click on image to see large.)

Old Farm Equipment Inside Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015. (Click on image to see large.)

Conrad Jr., Ernest, Bill and Christopher Starke Build An Engineering Marvel Round Barn

Still living in Milwaukee in 1902, Conrad Starke Sr., the mastermind behind the greatest portion of the Starke fortune, gave his four sons Conrad, Ernest, Bill and Christopher funding and supplies to go to Nebraska to live at the Starke property near Red Cloud. In addition to other building materials for a barn and other projects, the Starkes shipped gigantic 12” by 12” timbers from the Great Lakes to Nebraska. The Starke Round Barn took the Starke brothers two years to complete.

As the Starke brothers erected the barn, they did not use nails or pegs like other barns of the time. The citation for the Starke Round Barn in the National Register of Historic Places describes the construction and how the building holds together through tension, weight and balance:

The Starke barn is not polyhedronal, a type more common in Nebraska, but a true round barn. It is three stories tall and 130 feet in diameter. The central silo, of brick and mortar construction, is 28 feet in diameter and 65 feet in height, with a total volume of 40,000 cubic feet. The roof is a gable and of low pitch, required by the barn’s great circumference. The construction method is a combination of balloon framing and heavy timber supports. The entire three level vertical and horizontal support frame is of massive 12 X 12 timbers, which are held together by compressive and balancing tensile forces rather than by nails or pegs, which would be useless as fasteners under the thousands of tons the building was designed to hold. The barn was originally covered with horizontal siding. In the early 1960s, the original wood siding was covered over with corrugated iron sheets… With the exception of this minor alteration, the barn still stands today virtually unaltered since its construction.

Back Downhill Side of the Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde 2015. (Click image to see large.)

Back Downhill Side of the Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015. (Click image to see large.)

With the full three stories, the barn contains over 40,000 square feet of floor space. Other large round barns may have one level that is larger in diameter, but other levels are smaller. This is the case with the Central Wisconsin State Fairgrounds Round Barn in Marshfield, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Fairgrounds Barn is considered the largest round barn in the US.

The Thriving Starke Dairy Farm

The Starke Round Barn with extensive room on all three floors, originally supported a large dairy operation. The third top level, or loft, provided hay storage. The middle second floor, accessed directly from the front of the barn with a triple-wide driveway and doors, housed farm machinery, wagons, buggies and other conveyances, tools and equipment. The bottom ground floor stabled horses in one section and cows in another. Nearly half of the bottom floor extended into the hillside, while the remaining majority of the ground floor had windows around it. The milking area was on the window side of the basement floor. There were also windows on the main second floor originally, but many of these were covered in 1960 when the metal siding was installed.

Milking Area, Interior, First Floor or Basement, Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015. (Click image to see large.)

Milking Area, Interior, First Floor or Basement, Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015. (Click image to see large.)

The Starke brothers enjoyed a successful farm for nearly 20 years. However, they also overspent on farm supplies, luxuries and lavish parties. Novelist Willa Cather may have attended one of the parties, speculated the current owner of the Starke Round Barn, Liz Rasser, a relative of the Starkes, in Nebraska Rural Living. Red Cloud was the childhood home of Willa Cather. In one of Willa Cather’s short stories, “The Bohemian Girl,” the main character attended a barn dance to celebrate the completion of the largest barn in the state. Willa Cather’s father, Charles, who owned a real estate, insurance and loan office in Red Cloud, signed some of the surviving historic papers of the Starke barn. The Starke brothers were popular in the area and known by most.

“Everyone wanted to come out and work for them because they would just go sit under a shade tree and drink out of a cider jug all afternoon,” Rasser said. In 1915, the Starke brothers started the dairy operation, with approximately 75 stanchions for milking on the lower level of the barn. In 1922, the Starkes had Nebraska’s best producing cow for milk and butter.

Tools, Chair, Window, Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015.

Tools, Chair, Window, Starke Round Barn Near Red Cloud, Nebraska, Midwest #Heartland United States by David Leland Hyde, 2015. (Click image to see large.)

The barn has made it through two tornadoes and been missed by nearby fires, but tragedy struck the Starke brothers when their dairy herd contracted tuberculosis and nearly all died in the early 1920s. Debts had been mounting. Two of the Starke brothers left town and both died of heart attacks. The remaining two brothers moved to town, but lost the barn and the whole farm to a foreclosure sale on the steps of the Webster County Courthouse in 1929.

Walter and Will Rasser, nephews of Conrad Sr. and Veronica Rasser Starke, purchased the Starke farm in fateful 1929. Percy, Liz and son Cal, the current owners, are descendent from the original Rassers who bought the farm. The Rassers today give tours of the barn and hold special events and historical activities on the grounds.

The Rassers are actively raising funds to further restore the barn. Through various grants they were able to replace the gigantic roof and more maintenance is needed. To donate or get involved with the Starke Round Barn go to The Starke Round Barn Historic Site.

(Continued in the next blog post in the series, “Heartland 4 – Nebraska – Little Ruins on the Prairie.”)

Additional References:

Starke Round Barn Family History

Visit Nebraska: Starke Round Barn

Red Cloud Attractions: Starke Round Barn

Heritage Highway, US 136, Pioneer History

Milwaukee Waterways: Conrad Starke

Save The Historic Olsen Barn: Campaign by Feather River Land Trust

August 13th, 2015

Olsen Barn and Meadow Campaign

A Number of Photographers and Other Local Artists Including Jan Davies, Betty Bishop, Sally Yost, Sally Posner, David Leland Hyde and Many Others Have Donated Rights to Use Photographs, Originals and Prints to Feather River Land Trust to Help Save A Northern Sierra Legacy

October 23, 2015 Update:

Individual donations were up to $413,467 as of 10-1-15. This more than met the amount necessary to complete the land transaction. On September 23 Feather River Land Trust Executive Director Paul Hardy exercised the option to purchase the 107 acre property and Olsen Barn. Formal Closing took place October 23, 2015. As of October 1, Feather River Land Trust received 541 donations from 439 individuals from as far away as Alaska and New York. The total raised for the land transaction through October 1 was $798,000. Funds already raised for taking care of the land and barn total $15,467. A land and barn stewardship committee, including David Leland Hyde, has formed to establish land use, maintenance and restoration strategy. David Leland Hyde in particular is researching the viability for this property of joining the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The Imminent Demise of the Olsen Barn, a Plumas County Cultural Treasure

Cloudy Sunset, Olsen Barn, Lake Almanor Near Chester, California, Sierra, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. This photograph has been actively used by Feather River Land Trust in the Olsen Barn Campaign.

Cloudy Sunset, Olsen Barn, Lake Almanor Near Chester, California, Sierra, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. This photograph has been actively used by Feather River Land Trust in the Olsen Barn Campaign. (To see large click on image.)

Barns die in many ways: they are crushed by falling trees, blown down by high winds, dismantled for wood, demolished, set on fire and sometimes pushed over by bulldozers. However, the majority of barns don’t burn out, they just rot slowly away.

More barns give up the ghost each year than people build in the US. Around the West and Midwest dismantling barns is big business, but fortunately for historic barns there are also many friends of barns who are in the business of preservation.

One historic structure already falling apart is the Olsen Barn on the East edge of Chester, California on the shores of Lake Almanor where the Northern Sierra meets the Cascade Mountains. This cultural and community icon is one of the largest barns in Plumas County and the surrounding counties. For many years it has been restored in fits and starts, but mainly left to decay and crumble away if significant reconstruction does not occur soon.

Olsen Barn, Chester and Mt. Lassen Near Lake Almanor, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large, click on image.)

Olsen Barn, Chester and Mt. Lassen Near Lake Almanor, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large, click on image.)

Besides stunning views of Lake Almanor and Lassen Peak, the 107-acre Olsen Barn property includes lush stands of trees and a riparian creek corridor where the North Fork of the Feather River flows through from Chester into Lake Almanor. Norwegian pioneer settler and carpenter, Peter Olsen, originally built three barns for his dairy farm, of which today’s Olsen barn is the last one standing, but it is getting more shaky all the time. One major beam has fallen destabilizing one end of the structure. Also, many windows and doors are open and in other places the wooden walls are wearing thin, disintegrating and in danger of collapse.

Feather River Land Trust Tour Group, Interior Olsen Barn Near Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large, click on image.)

Feather River Land Trust Tour Group, Interior Olsen Barn Near Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. This photograph has also been used in the Olsen Barn Campaign. (To see large click on image.)

Still, several owl species continue to live in the barn. The meadow around the barn provides habitat for many species of wildlife and wildfowl, including a number of endangered species. Collins Pine owns an old railroad grade that runs through the property West of the barn and connects the fields around the barn to other areas of Chester Meadow. Collins Pine plans to restore the old railroad trestle crossing the North Fork Feather River and convert the railroad grade into a walking, hiking and possibly a biking trail. This will improve public access if the property owner is cooperative to such land use. A developer could wipe out the barn and fill the land with houses, as has been done so many times all over the west.

Fundraising Video Shows Historic and Natural Values

In a YouTube video raising funds to acquire the property for preservation, Paul Hardy, Executive Director and Founder of Feather River Land Trust said:

The property and barn are for sale on the open market and the right to public access could be lost forever. The barn has survived fire, floods, heavy snows, but most of all, development. Feather River Land Trust will keep the space open to everyone who wants to enjoy nature right outside their door. We also want to ensure that the Olsen Barn is standing for another 150 years.

Olsen Barn Across North Fork of Feather River and Riparian Area, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

Olsen Barn Across North Fork of Feather River and Riparian Area, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see large click on image.)

Since before the arrival of White settlers, the Chester Meadow has been a resource for people of the community to fish, picnic, explore and enjoy access to the shore of Lake Almanor. Originally the open grassland around the barn was part of the Maidu settlement now under Lake Almanor called Big Meadows. The area is now the last remaining remnant of Big Meadows, a Maidu trading and cultural center.

“Development of the Olsen Barn property would permanently erase an important village site of the Mountain Maidu people,” said Kenneth Holbrook, Maidu Summit Consortium Director, also in the Olsen Barn Campaign fundraising video.

Lenticular Clouds, Mt. Dyer and Chester Meadow Near Olsen Barn, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see larger click image.)

Lenticular Clouds, Mt. Dyer and Chester Meadow Near Olsen Barn, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (To see larger click image.)

The property is for sale for $798,000. The total Save Olsen Barn Campaign with pre-acquisition costs, restoration and management of the property will total about $1.2 million. Partly by meeting an early fundraising deadline, the project received $400,000 from Plumas County through California Proposition 50 on behalf of the Chester River Parkway. The current total fundraising from Feather River Land Trust private donors, as of August 4 is $243,108. This amount added to the $400,000 from the Prop 50 Grant makes a grand total to date of $643,108, leaving $154,892 needed by September 26 to successfully complete the purchase.

October 23, 2015 Update:

Even though the land transaction is now complete, funds are still much needed for ongoing land stewardship and barn restoration.

How You Can Make A Difference

Olsen Barn Through The Willows Across The North Fork Feather River, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. The Mountain Maidu used willows to make baskets that were unique in all the world. (To see larger click on image.)

Olsen Barn Through The Willows Across The North Fork Feather River Near Lake Almanor, Chester, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. The Mountain Maidu used willows to make baskets that were unique in all the world. (To see larger click on image.)

Time is running out on this gem of the Sierra. Here are some ways you can be part of this historical restoration project and support the Feather River Land Trust Olsen Barn Campaign:

Help Out By Check: Please make checks out to FRLT or Feather River Land Trust and Mail to: FRLT, P.O. Box 1826, Quincy, CA 95971 or take to the Chester branch of Plumas Bank.

Online Contribution: Go to Olsen Barn Fundraising page, scroll down, click on the large orange link button and under Donation Type choose Olsen Barn Campaign.

Stock or Mutual Fund Donation: Call Karen Klevin at 530-283-5758. It’s easy to make a stock donation and it is particularly beneficial if you have appreciated stock.

FRLT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

To find out more about the Olsen Barn Campaign and the Feather River Land Trust directly from Paul Hardy, Executive Director and Founder, attend The Common Good Community Foundation hosted talk and dinner (optional).

Almanor Legacy, a Talk by Paul Hardy
August 13, 2015
Lake Almanor Tavern (Next to Dollar General)
384 Main Street, Chester, CA   96020
530-258-2100
Hors d’Oeuvres, No Host Bar: 5:00 pm
Talk: 5:30 pm
Dinner: 6:00 pm
(Call to make reservations for dinner by August 11, 2015)

A Drive Through The Heartland 1

July 23rd, 2015

Journey Into The Heart of America

Old Tractor, Tall Grass Field and Edge of Thundercloud Near Oroville, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

Old Tractor, Tall Grass Field and Edge of Thundercloud Near Oroville, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde. (Click on image to see large.)

When I was a boy, I played in a local barn quite often. Godar’s Barn had a rope swing. Ed Godar smiled and greeted us kids most of the time, but he would get grumpy if he heard us much or if we rough housed. He said to strictly stay off the hay stacked in his barn. However, with the rope swing right there and him not around the barn much, it was extremely tempting to climb way up on the top of the stacked hay and leap off into mid air on the rope swing, which made for a much more exciting ride.

I have always loved barns and started photographing them for no particular reason in 2009. Recently I provided photographs to help in the Feather River Land Trust campaign to raise funds to preserve the Olsen Barn in Chester, California. More on the Olsen Barn in the blog post, “Save The Historic Olsen Barn: Campaign by Feather River Land Trust.”

From Plumas County in the Sierra Nevada of Northeastern California, I branched out and started photographing barns all over California. Recently, because of a wedding in Michigan, I decided to drive to the Midwest and photograph all the famous and historical barns of the Great Plains and Midwest. My journey of 8,000 miles through the Heartland of America: the Midwest and part of the South, United States, will celebrate architecture and land. I plan to photograph historical barns and farms, cityscapes, landscapes, covered bridges, old mills, wildlife refuges, waterfalls, urban blight, rural decay and perhaps even a shipwreck and more, though barns and their culture will be the main focus.

Highway Interchange at Wick's Corners Near Oroville, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

Highway Interchange at Wicks Corners Near Oroville, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

My friend Topher, short for Christopher, instigated this trip. Topher and I have been friends for almost 20 years. We were friends for a number of years in Albuquerque during my 30s when I finally went back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree. After I graduated from UNM, I moved to Massachusetts. Around the same time he moved back to Michigan, from where he came originally.

“I’ve been having a good time in Albuquerque,” Topher said. “But, I’ve been having the same good time in Albuquerque.” He was a traveling bus tour guide not inclined to stay put long. Out of the group of us who hung out together in Albuquerque, Topher was the least likely to get married. It was a fairly wild group. To our surprise, Topher did stay put in Michigan and lo and behold, here 15 years later he called early this year to say he will marry Kori July 30, just before the only blue moon in 2015.

Driving up to the West Coast of Michigan for the wedding will allow me to continue the barn photography project I began in California. I will do a study of the famous round barns of the Midwest, horse barns, feed barns, hay barns, milking barns and the tobacco barns of the South, as well as farm houses and other ranch buildings.

Metal Barn, Corn Field and Water Tank Near Kirkville, California, copyright 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

Metal Barn, Corn Field and Water Tank Near Kirkville, California, copyright 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

I will visit many sites I discovered through the National Register of Historic Places. I plan to photograph barns, state capitols and other structures in California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Thursday, June 16, 2015, with the evening light, my photographic journey to the heartland of the country began in the Great Central Valley, the heart of California, near the small agricultural and lumbering town of Oroville. I saw an old tractor juxtaposed with contemporary billboards in a big open field under a half clear, half stormy sky. Also, I stopped to photograph the barns and the interchange at Wicks Corners where California State Highway 70 and 149 merge. I have wanted to photograph this group of barns on two adjacent ranches for years. A few days later, I photographed metal barns near Knights Landing and Kirkville, California. I also photographed a red barn and white shed near Gridley.

Julie, Her Granddaughter and Her Horse Barn, Wick's Corners Near Oroville, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

Julie, Her Granddaughter and Her Horse Barn, Wicks Corners Near Oroville, California, copyright 2015 David Leland Hyde.

At Wicks Corners, Julie and her granddaughter came out to say hello and talk for a bit. On her small ranch she previously had many animals, but is now down to one Quarter Horse, six dogs, one cat, four goldfish and one magpie that talks. She raised her two daughters on the ranch and now they bring their granddaughters to visit.

My goal on this journey is not only to photograph barns, but the settings of the barns—the ranches, farms, homesteads, people, animals, freeways, dirt roads, blue highways, back roads and campgrounds. The only thing missing on my travels is that I don’t have a dog named Charley, but you never know what might happen by the time it’s all over. Check back here and stay tuned for more on my adventures. I will post more updates here, at least weekly, hopefully more often and tweet my travel progress from the heartland of California across the deserts of Nevada and Utah, the Rocky Mountains and into the Heartland of America.

Follow my travels on Twitter at @PhilipHydePhoto

(Continued in the blog post, “A Drive Through the Heartland 2.”)