You may have noticed the big, beautiful, red barn beside the highway. It’s just west of Danville, on the north side of Highway 34, across the tracks. It’s owned by Dale and Connie Glasgow who live in the farm house beside the barn.
But the barn wasn’t always a pristine red barn. When the Glasgows bought the property in 1985, there were two old barns. One was beyond saving, so they tore it down. They debated whether to tear the other barn down or try to restore it. They consulted the Amish and found out the barn could be saved and returned to almost new condition. The Glasgows wanted to preserve some of the heritage of the farm, so they went ahead with the restoration.
The barn was originally used as an overhead granary. It had a custom built contraption, or grain leg, with two transmissions and a Wisconsin engine for bucketing grain from wagons up into the granary. The grain leg had a driveshaft hooked to a power-take-off that ran the entire length of the barn and through the outside wall. The grain leg also had a steering wheel and tractor seat and was movable. But it was top heavy and rolled easily, so the farmer had to be careful while moving it. The granary was used to store seed corn by a seed corn company that was located across the road.
The Glasgows aren’t sure the exact year the barn was built, or who it was built by. They think the barn was built in the late ’30’s and there are a couple of names of people who may have built the house and barns. Typical of construction from that period, it has hand hewn beams held together by wooden pegs.
The Amish had to replace a whole section of roof on the west side of the barn. They also replaced all the siding. On closer inspection, it was noted that the barn had shifted on its foundation, probably from a major wind storm at one time or another. But like most structures built during that period, the barn could withstand a lot of stress.
By the way, Dale and Connie Glasgow have no connection to the unincorporated town of Glasgow, east of Fairfield. In fact, Dale has searched through the cemetery at Glasgow and there aren’t even any Glasgows in the Glasgow cemetery. However, there is an old Glasgow Cemetery outside of Eldon that does have some of Dale Glasgow’s relatives buried there.
It’s estimated that over 100 barns a month are disappearing from the landscape of Iowa and Illinois. They are too small for the huge machinery, and too small for the large round bales popular nowadays. The majority of hogs are being raised in confinement buildings, and cattle herds have grown so large that smaller barns aren’t practical.
The Glasgows just wanted to preserve a little bit of the past. As Dale says, “If you can keep a roof on these old barns, that’s 90% of the battle.” They also needed a shed for storage, and this barn isn’t really all that practical for storage. But the Glasgows wanted a structure that would outlast them. This old barn, now looking pristine, will do just that. In style. And proudly await the next owners—shifting foundation or not.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.