Friday, November 29, 2013

             How many old barns are left?


              That's a good question, and there are some estimates and answers.

Here's some info

Long story short, estimates put the total number of old-time barns currently remaining across America at about 660,000 when in 1910, at the peak of traditional small family farm activity in America, there were about six million.

And that's because, in those days, almost everyone was a farmer and tied to the land for the purposes of sheer survival. 

These days, 2 percent of our population are farmers

Here's a link to a story on it from the National Barn Alliance (NBA), an organization with the Mission to help all things old barns

And here's a link to the NBA itself Check them out -- they have a lot of good information and network connections on old barns and how to deal with them if you have a project at hand.

In the meantime  

Here's an excerpt from the article mentioned above from the NBA website.


Guest post by member, Charles Bultman. 

He is an architect in Ann Arbor, Michigan who has been saving and adapting old, unwanted, barns into new uses; including homes, offices and retail spaces. 

The scene is easily conjured; a barn in a field, quietly marking time. It’s a picture that lingers. Few things are as simple as an old barn. But that simplicity evaporates when we consider their future.

There are about 660,000 historic barns left in the United States. And while that may sound like a lot, at the peak  of farming in America, around 1910, there were 6 million farms. 

If each farm had only one barn we have lost on  average 50,000 barns a year. But obviously their demise does not come about ‘on average’. As the years pass more and more barns fall into ruin; making 660,000 seem like a frighteningly small number to me.

So what is to become of relics like barns when the country has been steadily moving to a non-agrarian lifestyle, and shows no real sign of turning back? These icons in the landscape are stranded but they are not without love. That’s why it is not so simple.

Barns in our landscape are sublime. Like a mountain or a river, they have existed there for so long that you can come to believe they will be there forever. 

But they will not. 

We have all heard the reasons; too much to maintain, farm equipment is too big, fewer farms and fewer farmers, etc. etc. etc.

But didn’t we agree that barns are loved? Why then does that not swing in their favor?

Click on this link to read the whole story 

And here's a bit more

What follows below is some really great information on total old barn numbers from the National Trust for Historic Preservation -- it's an excerpt and you can find the whole missive at:




Which states have the most old barns?

The results of the recent Census of Agriculture include some surprises about where older barns are located.  For example, the state with the most farms reporting pre-1960 barns is not Iowa, nor Wisconsin, nor Pennsylvania.  It is Texas.  (OK, maybe this isn't really a surprise.)  Below is a ranking of the top ten states where the most farmers or ranchers said they have a barn built prior to 1960. 
  1. Texas: 51,236  farms or ranches reporting at least one barn built before 1960
  2. Missouri: 36,007
  3. Wisconsin: 35,386
  4. Kentucky: 35,224
  5. Iowa: 34,224
  6. Ohio: 33,762
  7. Pennsylvania: 29,321
  8. Tennessee: 27,555
  9. Minnesota: 27,165
  10. Illinois: 25,767
Looking at these statistics, one might argue that larger states will always come out on top of the list.  What about a top ten list that takes into account total land area?  Here's a ranking of states when the results are calculated by the number of agricultural properties with barns built before 1960 per square mile.
  1. Kentucky: 0.89  farms or ranches with pre-1960 barns, for every square mile
  2. Ohio: 0.82
  3. Tennessee: 0.67
  4. Pennsylvania: 0.65
  5. Wisconsin: 0.65
  6. Indiana: 0.63
  7. Iowa: 0.61
  8. Maryland: 0.53
  9. Missouri: 0.52
  10. Illinois: 0.46
With this ranking in mind, it is particurlarly appropriate that Kentucky was the site of this year's national Heritage Barn Conference, organized by the National Barn Alliance in partnership with local hosts Preservation Kentucky and the Kentucky Heritage Council.

Read the whole article here:  --->



The old barns energy continues and is growing as, across the country, people are realizing how important these old wooden barns and farm structures are to us.

It's 'too little, too late' for so many of them, but in the meantime we still have the chance to save and honor a significant number of the old barns that our country came from, not so many years and decades ago. 

And remember to check out the website for possible gift giving ideas for that old barn lover on your list -- T-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs and more! Maybe Spreadshirt will offer another discount as Christmas approaches and if they do, we will tell you about it right away!

                        Enjoy the long, holiday weekend -- more later