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News Page, Working To Preserve Iowa's Barns

DAR Historic Preservation Medal, 09-12-21
From: DeShon Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution from Boone
To: Jack Smith, President of the Iowa Barn Foundation.

We are DeShon Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution from Boone. We would like to present the Iowa Barn Foundation with an Excellence in Historic Preservation Certificate and Medal. This is a fairly new award and it is to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that promote historic preservation. The recognition honors individuals and groups that have saved and/or preserved their local history, including restoration of buildings, collections, significant objects, monuments, cemeteries and other important artifacts. Many of us have been on your Iowa Barn Tours and have been so impressed with the dedication and determination to preserve these beautiful architectural structures that continue to tell the story of Iowa farming.

We thank you for the work that you do and would like to meet you to present your organization with this award. Some of us are planning to tour the Central Iowa barns on Saturday, September 25th.

Followup, from Roxanne Mehlisch, 10-03-21
"The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) intended to award IBF this recognition of historic preservation of barns at the Uetz barn in Boone County during the All State Barn Tour on September 25. The president of the group came down with COVID and the presentation was called off. A friend of mine is a member of the Boone DAR chapter and asked if she could bring the Certificate and Metal out to my house. She brought the award out on Oct 2. I have written a note to DAR on behalf of IBF thanking them for recognizing our dedication to saving historic barns. She took a couple of pictures she will put on Facebook DeShon chapter of DAR Boone county". (See photos below)


DAR Metal


About Our Friends (read here), by Jacqueline Andre Schmeal. Five men who dedicated their time, advice, and work to the Iowa Barn Foundation for years.


The annual Iowa Barn Foundation All-State Barn Tour (2021), featuring barns throughout the state that have received grants from the foundation, will be held the last weekend in September (Sept 25 & 26). This one-of -a -kind tour attracts folks from throughout the country and beyond. It is free and opened to the public. See All-State Barn Tour -2021 (21th Annual) on this website (click here).


Derecho in Iowa, Aug 10, 2020

Without warning, a major natural disaster, called a derecho, plummeted across Iowa August 10, 2020, carrying 200 mile per hour straight winds for 45 minutes with gusts up to 130 miles per hour. The devastation to houses, towns, trees, power lines, and crops was tremendous, especially in Linn County where Dwight Hughes, Iowa Barn Foundation board member, took the photo (below).

We do not know how many of our barns were lost, but many. A potentially high yield corn crop was pushed to the ground. Kameron Kosteer, who lives near Toledo, Iowa, was in the fields when he saw the skies turn green. By the time he reached the house, his historic barn was losing its roof. He lost 11 buildings that day.

Iowa's "help others" ethic became front and center after the disaster. Folks from throughout the state drove miles to help those in need. They just helped like they did after the Parkerburg tornado.

Derecho Barn



Iowa Barn Foundation Book Available!

Our new book, Heritage on the Prairie, Published Jan 29, 2019, by Iowa Barn Foundation, is now available!
The Robinson Barn is featured in the book. (click here for an order form as a PDF).

Heritage on the Prairie, a colorful book featuring photographs and brief histories of Iowa barns, has been published by the Iowa Barn Foundation and is now available.

The foundation, founded in 1997, is an all-state non-profit group dedicated to preserving Iowa's barns. The foundation has awarded matching grants to about 150 barns throughout the state.

Dedicated to barn preservation, photographers, writers, editor, and assistants were all volunteers who donated their expertise to the creation of the book. Several of the photographers and writers are professionals.

The foundation raises money and gives grants to property owners throughout the state. The book features photographs of some of these barns. Some are on the foundation's annual fall tour featuring barns that have received grants or been restored by the owner.

The cost of the book is $29 plus $5 if it is shipped. Our Order Form (a PDF) for the Heritage on the Prairie book can be downloaded, printed, and sent to us. (Or call Roxanne Mehlisch, Iowa Barn Foundation board member, at 641-751-1406).

Any income from the sale of books will go into the foundation's barn preservation fund.

The foundation is grateful to Theresa Zaruba, account manager, J and A Printing, Inc., Hiawatha, Iowa, and Deanna Roberts, Letter, Type and Design, Marion, who went above and beyond in printing the book. They worked to make it an attractive book that would be enduring.

[Excerpt from the introduction] "For over 300 years, from 1650 to 1950, the American all-purpose barn, usually the most prominent building on a farm, was the center of hard work focused on making a livelihood from raising crops and animals. So important was the barn that it was often built before the house. Sometimes the family lived in the barn until the house was built."

"It is important that Iowans save historic barns. They offer us a sense of place as a “Cathedral on the Prairie.” Fortunately, for barn enthusiasts and historians, many farmers are willing to ignore profitability in the interest of tradition and heritage to maintain their barns heritage. The photographers, editor, writer, and assistants who contributed to this book were all volunteers dedicated to saving important symbols of Iowa’s agricultural heritage."

The photographers, editor, writer, and assistants who contributed to this book were all volunteers dedicated to saving important symbols of Iowa’s agricultural heritage.
Editor: Jacqueline Andre Schmeal. Writer: Ober Anderson. Assistants: Andrea Corcoran, Don Geiger, Tom Lawler, Ray McFarland, Roxanne Mehlisch, Richard Schmeal, Jeffrey Fitz-Randolph. Photographers: Ober Anderson, Kenneth Dunker, Duane Fenstermann, Marlene Fenstermann, Jeffrey Fitz-Randolph, Don Poggensee, Sue Robinson, Ken Starek, Wilford Yoder. Printer: J&A Printing, Hiawatha, Iowa


Iowa Barn Foundation News

A Loss of a Historic Barn (July 19, 2018)

On July 19, 2018, one of Iowa's celebrated historic barns was swooped 15 feet into the air by a tornado and slammed to the ground leaving only scattered pieces of the stunning National Register treasure on the ground.

Sharon Galloway, the barn's owner, was visiting friends 20 miles away when she received a call from a friend, "Your house is fine, but you don't have a barn anymore."

By the time she reached home, near Keosauqua in southeast Iowa, there were 30 cars parked on the property. "I felt terrible. It was surreal. I look at it, and it's gone," she said.

Sharon's father, Clyde McElhinney, bought the barn in 1957. It had been built in 1890 by William Barker as a dairy barn. It was a basement barn and was special because it featured Louden custom equipment. The house, which was not damaged, was built in 1884. The cupola also remains.

Sharon, 77, who was a teacher, is concerned about the 100 bats that lived in the barn. "I wonder what happened to them," she said.

More photos of the Galloway Barn on this website, and more details on the Louden Tour website.

Below photo taken July 2013 of the Galloway Barn, north of Keosauqua, IA (by Jeff Fitz-Randolph).
Galloway Barn

Below photo taken July 19, 2018, after the tornado at about 6pm (unknown photographer).
Galloway Barn


Note to IBF Members about AmazonSmile.

The Iowa Barn Foundation would like to alert our members to an Amazon rewards program. For every purchase you make by using AmazonSmile, Amazon will make a donation to your designated beneficiary. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to contribute to the Iowa Barn Foundation. For more information, go to the webpage, where you can read more about it by clicking on their link, Learn more about AmazonSmile.


Our booth at the Iowa State Fair, Aug, 2017, 2018 & 2019

BIG thanks to Ron McBroom and Ginnie Hargis for again creating a fantastic booth at the Iowa State Fair. They handed out magazines and business cards with the dates for the IBF annual All-State Barn Tour. If you would like to thank them or volunteer for next year.

State Fair display


We always see the exteriors of barns.

But, the interior often reveals the story of the complexities of building the structure. Often the interiors are works of art that are hidden. Look at the interior of your barn--especially the ceiling. Would not others like to see it? Take a photo of it and send it to us along with a little history of the barn and its builder.

The 100 year-old Smith barn - click on the photo for the story.
Smith Barn Interior

Also, we are interested in sharing photos of "marks" in the barn that might indicate its age or who built it. We have found dates written in barn closets. Please send to Iowa barn Foundation Magazine, 5327 Mandell, Houston, TX 77005. Or e- mail to:


Everybody has a story (see our Barn Stories page)

Do you have a story or photos about barns that you would like to share with our Iowa Barn Foundation Magazine readers or our website viewers?  Submit your words, photos, or story ideas to Jacqueline Schmeal, 5327 Mandell, Houston, TX 77005.

Thank you. We would love to hear from you. And we are interested in knowing about barn-related activities around Iowa.


Our primary Mission

Barns, America's symbols of honesty, integrity, and the American dream, are disappearing from Iowa's countryside at a rapid rate. With mechanized agriculture of today, barns are no longer the center of the farm.

But, they remain poignant reminders of our agricultural heritage.

Founded in 1997, the Iowa Barn Foundation, an all-volunteer, all-state organization, is dedicated to preserving Iowa's rural agricultural buildings. The Iowa Barn Foundation is an Iowa non-profit corporation with tax-exempt status under paragraph 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

The primary mission of the Iowa Barn Foundation is to educate the public about the significance and importance of Iowa's barns through the Iowa Barn Foundation Magazine and our Barn Tours. It raises money to provide barn rehabilitation or restoration matching grants to help property owners restore their barns.

In addition, property owners who use their own funds to restore or rehabilitate barns that would otherwise qualify for a matching grant, are eligible to receive an Iowa Barn Foundation Award of Distinction. Award of Distinction icon Take a look at some of the restored barns that have been featured on the IBF Barn Tours since 2001.

The Iowa Barn Foundation, in keeping with its mission to preserve Iowa's agricultural heritage, accepts economically and financially self-sustaining farms and farmland. Through the foundation's farm conservancy, these farms and farmland are saved in perpetuity for agricultural purposes according to the owner's wishes.

We need your help to preserve Iowa's barns! All of the funds to rehabilitate and restore Iowa's barns come solely from private donations. Make a donation or become a member of the Iowa Barn Foundation today!

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Kenneth Ruegsegger, Mount Pleasant

There are those who give their lives trying to make a better society. Kenneth Ruesegger, Mount Pleasant , was one of those. His passing last week was a loss to Iowa, to barns, to America. He was one of those hard working people generous of spirit.

He and his wife, Marilyn, attended a barn tour and saw that signage was minimal. An expert in carpentry, the offered to make signs and take them around the state. So, for many years, Joe created the beautiful directional signs, and he and Marilyn drove from corner to corner of the state personally delivering the handmade signs to owners of barns on tour. It was a huge job--a labor of love.

These were special people who gave time, talent and effort to enrich the Iowa Barn Foundation--to enrich Iowa.

We'll still see some of those lovely signs. And, we will still stop and think of the wonderful couple who dedicated so much time to make the tour, Iowa, even better. We will always be grateful. Thank you, Marilyn and Ken.

Jacqueline Andre Schmeal, President Emeritus

Jason Zabokrsky, Troy Mills, wrote:

"Barns symbolize the agricultural heritage of those who founded the state of Iowa. That agricultural heritage is synonymous with important values. These values include dedication to hard work, honesty, integrity, family, and community...

...As barns are destroyed a valuable part of our heritage is also lost. If Iowans lost these historic barns from the landscape, one may posit that Iowans will begin to lose sight of the important values of hard work, honesty, integrity, family, and community which they represent."

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© 2021 Iowa Barn Foundation. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written permission from the Iowa Barn Foundation. Updated 10-03-21.
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