YAKIMA, Wash. — Historic preservation isn’t just about big old houses and grand public buildings. Many appreciate structures of a more utilitarian nature — barns.
Barns make some of the best landmarks, especially in the Yakima Valley, where agriculture is king. They serve specific purposes and as a result are more often plain than fancy, but they also can celebrate the family’s success with their size, materials, craftsmanship and architectural detail.
We’ve highlighted six barns; the first three are on the National Register of Historic Places, and for the other three, we like the style and stories.
ROUND BARN AT THE CORNELL FARMSTEAD, PLEASANT ROAD AND OLD PROSSER ROAD, GRANDVIEW
The house and barn on this property, which is entirely on the National Register of Historic Places, were built for dairy farmer S.D. Cornell between 1912 and 1916.
The big, red, round barn is 200 feet in circumference, with a centrally placed silo 50 feet in circumference. The silo rises through the conical roof, ending about 25 feet above the barn with the words “Marble Ranch” near the top.
The interior of the barn is well preserved, according to its state historic property inventory form.
The lower level has its original wooden floors and originally featured milking stanchions arranged around the central silo. A ladder by the silo leads to where hay was stored on the second level, which has radiating floor joists and flooring. The barn is used for storage today.
JAMES GLEED BARN, 1960 OLD NACHES HIGHWAY, NACHES
Built in 1885 as a cattle and horse barn for Massachusetts native and Civil War veteran James Gleed, this barn built of hand-hewn posts and beams with mortise and tenon joints and wooden pegs is considered an “exceptionally well-preserved example of heavy timber frame barn construction in the Yakima Valley,” according to its National Register of Historic Places registration form.
Gleed was a successful rancher and hay farmer and built an early irrigation system. He grew up in Massachusetts, Illinois and Colorado before he, his wife, four daughters and father-in-law packed a covered wagon and set out for Walla Walla in 1878. But Walla Walla was in the midst of a diptheria epidemic, so they kept going to Yakima City (now Union Gap).
The barn was built by Robert Scott of Naches and his sons Walter and Bob. It features hand-hewn posts and beams, and sawn lumber hauled by wagon from a mill at The Dalles, Oregon. The shakes came from a mill at Clemen Mountain.
O.J. GENDRON RANCH BARN, 6702 BELL ROAD, MOXEE
Like the Cornell Farmstead, this entire property is on the National Register of Historic Places. It “embodies the distinctive characteristics of a typical subsistence and hop farm during the early part of the 20th century,” according to a summary on its National Register nomination form. It was constructed circa 1912.
Resting on a stone foundation, the barn features an attached loafing shed. Loafing sheds are small barns that enable stock to get out of the weather.
Flooring of the lower east side of the barn, below the loft, is thick planks of wood. The west end of the barn is open construction from dirt floor to the roof, the National Register form notes, and “housed great quantities of loose hay, provided protection for animals during the winter, and was a safe foaling stall for a pregnant mare.”
The large loafing shed adjoins three-fourths of the south side of the barn and features a wooden walkway and full-length feed trough. The frame of the trough incorporates rails reportedly used in the coal mines of Cle Elum, according to the nomination form summary.
HERKE HOP KILN BARN ON DONALD WAPATO ROAD, WAPATO
This already tall wooden barn just off Interstate 82 near Donald is made taller by its single ventilating tower, a clear indication of its original purpose for storing and drying hops. It was built around 1915, according to its listing on Heritage Barns of Washington State.
Antony and Gertrude Herke and their eight children emigrated from Germany in 1869 and worked their way across the United States, according to Historic Barns’ 2010 report. When the family reached San Francisco, they took a steamboat to The Dalles, then a wagon to Fort Simcoe and finally Ahtanum Mission. Two children died in infancy along the way, according to the report.
The Herkes bought land near the mission and later 160 acres in Parker Bottom, where they grew hops. Antony died in 1908; his two farms were divided among the six surviving children, the report notes. Built for the growing hop market, the structure was moved about 800 feet to make way for I-82 and has been used more recently for storing hay.
BARN COMPLEX NEAR BROWNSTOWN, JUST WEST OF THE INTERSECTION OF BROWNSTOWN AND BRANCH ROAD
Cattle rancher Larry Doman has owned this distinctive complex of four red barns just west of Brownstown for about 24 years. Doman estimates they’re at least 75 years old.
Reese Brown, the man for whom Brownstown was named, built the barns and owned 1,000 acres, Doman said. He lived in apartments above the old tavern, now known as Joe’s Place.
“He farmed that thousand acres with big Percheron horses. All of those barns are full of stalls that housed those Percheron horses,” Doman said. “The big barn, I have an office in there and some storerooms. The rest of it is big stalls, and I’ve never taken them out. They were built with timber from the mill out in White Swan.”
After Brown died in a freak auto accident — he was impaled by a tepee pole when he rear-ended a truck carrying several of them, Doman said — Maurice Rowe bought the place and owned it for 65 years.
“He built the house that we live in now” across Branch Road, Doman added, “then he farmed the same 1,000 acres with those same horses until in the late ’90s, then he bought tractors and then just stored equipment in those big barns.”
“Since I’ve owned it, one of the barns I have taken most of the stalls out of and I use that one barn as a maternity ward in the winter,” he said. “I use them basically to house my cattle and a boat. Once in a while I park my tractors in one of them. Mostly I just house equipment.”
He appreciates the barns’ substance.
“They’re built from that rough-cut lumber. They’re solid as a rock,” he said.
MARQUEZ BARN JUST OFF INTERSTATE 82 IN SUNNYSIDE
Folks call this distinctive structure near the Grand Cinemas the Marquez barn after Norbert Marquez and son Robert Marquez, who moved it to this location in the 1980s. It features an ambitious Gothic arch roof, a style often seen in dairying areas because it offered extensive space for hay storage above the first floor where milking took place.
While the Gothic Revival style of residential architecture became popular in the United States before the Civil War, Gothic arch roof barns weren’t part of the landscape in large numbers until the 1930s. They became popular in the Midwest then, mostly in Wisconsin, before the style moved beyond the center of the country.
Because the barn is not listed on the state historic registry, detailed information about its age and origins was not readily available.
Information from: Yakima Herald-Republic, http://www.yakimaherald.com