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Across Iowa, barns in infinite variety 
to welcome the curious

Across Iowa, barns in infinite variety 
to welcome the curious

  • 0

A Mennonite barn from the 19th century. A barn that’s the burial site of Farceur, a famed Arabian horse. A brick barn with a matching corncrib.

Those interested in agriculture, architecture and history will be able to tour these and other barns during the Iowa Barn Foundation’s free, self-guided barn tour this coming weekend.

Owners will discuss the barns and their histories at many of the stops. Visitors are expected from around the country.

The purpose is to encourage barn preservation and teach young people about barns. Barns are a vital part of Iowa’s cultural and economic history, said Jacqueline Schmeal, president of the Iowa Barn Foundation.

“You couldn’t have animals or you couldn’t store crops without a barn,” Schmeal said. “When the early settlers came, one of the first things they had to do was build a barn for the animals and crops.”

There are 87 barns on the tour, and some 30 of them are in western Iowa. They include several within an hour’s drive of Omaha, including the restored Finken barn east of Beebeetown in Harrison County and the Heflin barn near Harlan, used by four generations of the family.

The Mennonite barn is located near Ocheyedan, northeast of Sioux City in Osceola County. The barn where Farceur is buried is in Boone County. A brick barn with a matching corncrib can be seen in Greene County.

One of the western Iowa barns on the tour is the Conover horse barn near Holstein, in Ida County, about 110 miles northeast of Omaha. It was built by Cornelius Burroughs Conover I around 1900 to hold draft horses.

“My grandfather and great-grandfather were Belgian horse breeders, and he would breed Belgians and have a production sale every year and sell them as teams,” said Cary Conover, 65, one of Cornelius Conover’s great-grandsons and current owner of the property.

Cary Conover and his wife, Victoria, renovated the barn about 12 years ago with the help of an Iowa Barn Foundation grant.

“We have it restored inside and out. We have put the horse stalls back in and the center alleyway back in,” he said. “We believe it to be as close to original as we can get it.”

The barns will be open Saturday and Sunday, 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

The nonprofit foundation was formed in 1997 and has provided funding to restore most of the barns on the tour. It raises money to help property owners renovate their old barns.

The tour is free, although donations are appreciated.

For information, contact iowabarnfoundation.org.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1310, andrew.nelson@owh.com

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