Friday, October 25, 2013

                                                         The Edward Ayer Farm
                                                   Linn Township, Walworth County, Wisconsin

The twin barns in the above pic are located in southeastern Wisconsin, USA on the south side of Geneva Lake and city of Lake Geneva. They were built in the mid-late 1800s by Edward Ayer, who had made a fortune selling railroad ties to the railroads as they began their push West in the 1800s.  

As one of the wealthy elite his life and times were quite remarkable and were portrayed in a book written a couple years after his death in 1927. Here's a link to that tome and it's very cool, check it out:

I hope the link travels through the blog, if not Comment on it and I'll figure something else out. And hey, Comment either way as I'm trying to get this blog all up and happening and Comments and Followers are a good thing -- please consider doing both -- thanks!

Anyway, Ayer was a very good man and spent his wealthy life traveling the World while rubbing elbows with the roughest and toughest in his lumber business as well as the most polished and pristine as he helped the City of Chicago take shape in the 1800's. He also helped found the Field Museum in Chicago, built an amazing collection of Native American everything while helping Native tribes at the same time, and like so many of the wealthy of his era, he owned farms and farmland as the rich enjoyed trying to have the best farm to brag about when they got together in the hushed enclaves of their wealthy world, smoking cigars and drinking dark whiskey amidst the plushly padded furniture of the time. (At least, that's how I picture it :-)

So why two identical barns? That's what I was hoping to discover by scanning the pages of the book mentioned above. On a quick look I couldn't come up with the confirming info in the big book of 300-some pages, so if anyone wants to take it on and happens to find an actual mention of it, far out -- please let me know and I'll pass it along to everyone.  

But in the meantime, here's what I've heard about it in the area over the years as the barns have always been a source of much local attention -- they're on a busy road and people are always talking about them.  

There is more than one book about Mr. Ayer and I believe that buried somewhere in one of them is corroborating evidence and support to local lore that he built two identical barns so he could give one of the barns to each of his twin daughters! How great would that be in a one-upsmanship conversation with your wealthy friends in a dark, smokey room somewhere in the 1800's

True? Not sure, but I really do believe it in the end and will update as appropriate as time goes by. There are some really good local historians and somewhere, someone knows about it.

The barns are only still standing by grace of the metal roofs that were put on them at some point in the past. The barns may or may not keep standing  as the years come, as the many years that have already gone by have taken their toll

We are likely the final witnesses to the lives of these historic Heartland barns and it will be such a shame if/when they are no more -- they lived such a life and participated earnestly in the earliest years of our developing country not so long ago

And here they are still with us for as long as that is to be. They are so special -- it would be great to see them saved somehow for the future.

I had a chance to shoot some footage of the buildings a couple of years ago and I'm glad I got it then as they've slipped a bit since. And now I wonder if the weight of the once-savior metal roof ultimately turns it into one of the next threats to the barns' survival.

I'll tell you what, if someone does come up with that nugget of information from any source on why there are two identical barns, I'll gift them a DVD copy of the newest/third episode in the 'American Barn Stories' series AND the T-shirt from the e-shop in their size that has the two barns on the front of it. 

Take a look at the T-shirt here to see what it looks like:  

                     Here's the link to the main website -- visit often!

Thanks for visiting, more later on it all,


PS  And Art the Farmer actually knows quite a bit about the history of the farm from his days in the area and I'll get him on camera talking about it and bring it to you sometime later -- but not sure if he knows the oldest history -- stay tuned --