Heritage Barn Register Open to New (But Old) Additions

By Steve Jackson

The landscape of Eastern Washington is dotted by old barns, many in disrepair, some of which look like they have seen better days, but all that can tell a story. The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic preservation is looking for old barns and their accompanying story.

Rod Square's dutch style barn. By Steve Jackson.The Heritage Barn Register was created to document the history of old barns that are still standing. The agency is asking folks to nominate their barns to be added to the registry. 

Field Director Chris Moore says they are looking for barns that are in mostly original condition that have not been modified much since their original design, along with a known history.
Moore: “They must retain a significant amount of historical integrity. And integrity is different than condition, so you might see a barn that is needs a little bit of TLC, that is a little run down, but it would still retain historical integrity of all the material is present”.

Photo: Rod Square's dutch style barn. By Steve Jackson.

One historical barn that made the Register last year was built in 1905, owned by Rod Sprague of Orchard Prairie, near Spokane. The barn has been in his family since it’s construction. Sprague recently worked to raise the barn on its sagging foundation, and did some reinforcement on the timber frame of the 2400 square foot Dutch style barn. He says his work was the result of love of the history, rather than an effort to get the barn listed on the register.
Sprague: “If you’re doing it to get it on the registry or for tax incentives, I don’t think you’ve got the right mindset, you have to love the structure and appreciate the structure.”
Rod Square in front of his barn in Orchard Prairie. By Steve Jackson.Sprague, who recalls playing in the barn as a child in the 1940’s, says he is still amazed at the construction with its massive support frames.

Sprague: “We sometimes take a break and look at things and think, how on earth did those guys get those things up with a team of horses and their own brawn. And now have cranes and forklifts, and now our work is a lot easier, but you take a look and just try to visualize how those guys did these things.”

Any barn that is added to the registry is also eligible to apply for another program this year to receive matching grant money for rehabilitation. The deadline for applying to the registry is October 1st.

A free workshop on the barn registry is going to be held Thursday at the Spokane City Council Chambers from 5 to 7 PM. If you would like to find more information you can do a Google search for Heritage Barn Registry. There is also a list of the 512 barns in the registry on the website.

Photo: Rod Square in front of his barn in Orchard Prairie. By Steve Jackson.
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