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«The University of Wisconsin-Extension is attempting to document a number of successful barn re-use projects in the state. This report summarizes just ...»

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Barn Adaptive Reuse Summaries

for the Wisconsin Barn Preservation Initiative*

The University of Wisconsin-Extension is attempting to document a number of successful barn re-use projects in

the state. This report summarizes just a few of them. If you know of other projects that would be appropriate to

include in this document, please contact the author at the address below.

As the revision date below indicates, this information is periodically updated. To receive the most current materials

please contact the author or access the information at the following Internet address:


Compiled By:

Charles S. Law, Ph.D.

Community Planning and Design Specialist Local Government Center 229 Lowell Hall, 610 Langdon Street Madison, WI 53703 (608) 265-2501 E-mail: cslaw@facstaff.wisc.edu * The Wisconsin Barn Preservation Initiative is an ongoing effort aimed at helping preserve many of the historic agricultural buildings i n Wisconsin. Advising this initiative are the University of Wisconsin - Extension, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information please contact the author.


Revised 12/96 Contents Present Use: Museum - Watson's Wild West Museum

Elkhorn, WI Present Use: Flea Market -New Richmond Heritage Center

New Richmond, WI Present Use: Antique Store and Private Residence - Grandpa's Antique Shop

Onalaska, WI Present Use: Antique Shop - Nordik Sleigh

Cable, WI Present Use: Retail Shop - The Mexican Door at the Red Barn

North Ephraim, WI Present Use: Retail, Office, and Residential Space

Evansville, WI Present Use: Gift Shop - Sparby's Christmas Barn

Waunakee, WI Present Use: Florist - Bittersweet Flower Market

LaCrosse, WI Present Use: Winery & Cider Mill - Orchard Country

Fish Creek, WI Present Use: Bar and Restaurant - Quivey's Grove

Madison, WI Present Use: Bar and Restaurant

Lena, WI Present Use: Bar and Restaurant - Don Q Inn

Dodgeville, WI Present Use: Offices & Apartments

Madison WI Present Use: Storage of Automobile Parts (used) - Red Barn Auto Salvage

Deer Park, WI Present Use: Municipal Garage

Sheboygan Falls, WI Present Use: Kitchen, Dining Hall, Classroom and Nature Store

Sarona, WI Present Use: Meeting place for Oakhaven Church

Oshkosh, WI Present Use: Countryside Christian Church

Brookfield, WI Present Use: Residence

Black Earth, WI Present Use: A Country Bed & Breakfast: Birch Creek Inn

DePere, Wisconsin Present Use: Inn: Bay Shore Inn

Sturgeon Bay, WI Present Use: Youth Hostel: Hostelling International, HI-Red Barn Hostel

Greendale, WI Present Use: Regional Performing Arts Center - St. Croix Center for the Arts

Osceola, WI WI Barn Adaptive Reuse Projects University of Wisconsin- Extension Present Use: Museum - Watson's Wild West Museum Type of Barn: Dairy Barn originally built in 1908

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This former Dairy Barn located just outside Elkhorn originally had 10 stanchions. The structure sat vacant for 33 years and was almost burned down.

Today, the structure houses a Museum with an old west theme.

Inside you can find the mock-up of a general store and saloon with over 200,000 items of interest. Interior walls have all been paneled and insulation added. The barn was also opened up to 24'.

Success of Project: The project took three years but they found the work very enjoyable. It was so much fun that they are interested in doing another barn project. In order to accommodate the growing museum they may move another barn to the site to use as an addition.

Contractors Used: The owner did all of the work himself and has extensive documentation on the project. 2000 pictures were taken from start to finish, plus a daily log regarding all the work - step by step.

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Present Use: Flea Market - New Richmond Heritage Center Type of Barn: Post & beam "bank barn" with gambrel roof (plus granary & tile silo)

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This 1916 barn, as well as the tile silo and granary, were originally part of the 1884 (320-acre) Marcus Sears Bell farm. The farmhouse, listed on the National Register, was moved in 1982 to save it (and the barns) from burning by a developer.

The buildings are now home to the New Richmond Heritage Center.

Renovation included a new cedar shingle roof for barn, silo, and granary alike plus additional repair expenses. The barn is now used for a fund raising flea market while the two story granary is used for storage, exhibits and a workshop. The Heritage Center is open year-round for tours, events, and programs.

Success of Project: The flea market is a popular shopping/recycling center in the area. Gross sales increase annually ($594 in 1986 to over $16,500 in 1995) and the flea market is now held every Saturday, May through October in the large barn. A local Farmer's Market is also held at the Heritage Center from July through October.

Contractors Used: Local contractors

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: While construction costs are not available, the conversion work included a set of new stairs leading to the second story loft space, new insulation and interior paneling, a new furnace, windows and doors. To the back, a second bedroom and bath was added including a porch and deck.

Success of Project: One of the first uses of an old barn that comes to mind is that of an antique shop, so this adaptive reuse certainly contributes to the business' success.

Contractors Used: Much of the work was completed by the owner and Kemp Construction of Onalaska - N6086 CTH SN

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This sixty year old barn, located just south of Cable, Wisconsin on Highway M, houses an antique shop.

The first floor of the barn has been converted into a showroom for the antique shop while the second floor provides storage space. The barn was originally built to store up to 10,000 bales of hay. The conversion included jacking and leveling the hayloft floor. A dormer was added as decor. The barn is not heated. The hayloft door has been weighted with a cable for easier use. Larry and Nancy eventually want to make it their home.

Success of Project:

Contractors Used: NA

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This barn was converted into a shop about 1952. Conversion included paneling the front as it is now.

The back was left pretty much in its original condition (although if this was a dairy barn, the stanchions and gutters have been removed and the floor repoured). The whitewash is still on the walls. It has been a gift shop and clothing store ever since, with the current owner arriving in 1956. The foundation of an old silo is visible outside the barn with a large birch tree growing in the center.

Success of Project:

Contractors Used:

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This 135 year old barn has been adapted to shelter a diversity of new uses. In 1979 the barn's hay mow was remodeled so that one side could serve as office space for the Evansville Review, and the other as living quarters for Frank and Vivian Gildner. A mezzanine was added to provide additional living space. The original hay fork still hangs above the Mezzanine and serves as a reminder of the past. The original exterior wood siding was reused as interior wall paneling and helps to maintain the look and feel of being inside an old barn. Stanchions were removed during the lower level renovation to provide retail space for Gildner's Country Home Center.

Success of Project: Frank Gildner first considered tearing the barn down because he wasn't sure what to do with it. It is hard to put a price on atmosphere, but many first time customers stop because the business is located inside a barn.

Contractors Used: NA

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This milking barn was orginally built in 1917 and perhaps its most remarkable characteristic is the stone foundation. This is the second reuse of this barn. Just a few years ago this barn housed a small garden supply business and greenhouse. When the barn was acquired in 1987 most of it had dirt floors. Since that time, the floor has been finished with concrete and several of the interior support columns were re-positioned to support a new laminate beam added for structural stability. At the same time, the ceiling was jacked up and evened. Local carpenters set new windows into the foundation and a new roof and siding was added.

Success of Project: The owners noted how much cleanup was required. Obviously the atmosphere created by the barn is important to business.

Contractors Used: Local contractors were used. Their names are not known.

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: A number of changes were made to the original structure including the additional greenhouse, new external siding and insulation. On the inside, the owners added a new concrete floor, sandblasted the beams, and created an exposed loft space requiring new steps, exterior casement windows, an insulated ceiling and drywall. The silo was kept intact and is now used as a display area.

Success of Project: Achieved purpose - the original building form fits the business well, and thecompleted project makes an attractive addition to the scenic LaCrosse River Marsh area.

Contractors Used: R. J. Sullivan of Onalaska, WI

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This dairy barn was formerly part of a 135 acre farm that was farmed for 75-100 years until 1955-56.

After sitting vacant, the barn was converted and refurbished in 1983.

This included sandblasting the ceilings and saving the original wood beams and most of the wood frame windows. The field stone walls were covered with plaster. The barn is now an integral part of this wine operation.

Success of Project: The project was highlighted in the May 1985 issue of Country Living.

Contractors Used: They did the work themselves.

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: Another former Horse Barn in the Madison area, this barn houses a bar and restaurant. Three other dilapidated barns from elsewhere in the state were taken down and used to construct the bar area and restrooms located to the right of the stone stable. Additional support beams and posts were added on the inside of the structure as needed to support a sagging roof.

A new roof was added on top of the original roof to provide adequate insulation. The underside of the original roof was left intact to add to the character of the restaurant. The end of the gable area on the south side of the building was opened up with windows to allow natural light penetration. All of the interior wood floors were replaced.

Success of Project:

Contractors Used: The architect who directed this project is Arlan Kay of Madison. Heiser Builders, Incorporated of Waunakee were the building contractors.

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This barn was converted to a place of business in 1934 by a dentist from Green Bay. The business has had several owners. Today, the hay loft serves as a large hall and has a small bar area that accomodates 99 people. The first floor houses the main bar with a side room where food is served.

The silo is used to store beer and soda.

Success of Project: The facility is well used and accomodates small parties and infrequent dances.

Friday night fish frys average around 300 servings.

Contractors Used: Not known. A customer related that he had worked on the project for one dollar a day.

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: The barn itself was constructed in 1915 as part of a dairy farm that existed on the site. Now a bar and restaurant, this project was completed in 1964 at a very minimal cost.

It seems the owner would buy free drinks for area farmers who would bring in building materials and farm implements (such as old wagon wheels) that are now used as interior decorations. Much of the interior wood came from an old army barracks that was being torn down in the area.

Success of Project: NA Contractors Used: The owner, his son and neighbors completed much of the work.

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

Brief Outline of Project: This horse barn was built sometime between 1910 and 1914. The simple brick structure is a rare survivor of the horse-and-wagon era. Built as part of the old city yards, the barn housed up to nine draft horses whose job it was to pull maintenance and service vehicles. On the side of the building are nine windows which provided light and air to each individual stall. The second story doorway under the archway led to the haymow. The barn was used to house municipal horses probably through the 1930's and 1940's. The barn remained a municipal building and was converted to office space by 1946. The barn was neglected during its years of disuse. The roof was not maintained and the interior of the building suffered extensive damage. The Madison Mutual Housing Association moved into the offices and renovated some of the space into two apartments in

1987. On March 6, 1988, the historical significance of this building was recognized by the Madison Landmarks Commission.

Success of Project: NA Contractors Used: NA

Project Photographs:

–  –  –

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