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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Barn Again

The big red or white barn is an instantly recognized Midwestern icon. Picturesque barn scenes featured on greeting cards, calendars, posters, and advertising (and this magazine cover!) evoke a sense of security, stability, wholesomeness, and honesty. Graduating high school seniors (city kids and country kids) and engaged couples seek the perfect rustic barn setting as the rural backdrop to their senior portraits or engagement photos.

I grew up in Iowa and Southern Indiana yet my experience with barns is limited. I recall playing with my sister’s Fisher-Price Little People Family Barn set — the barn doors mooed when opened. E.B. White’s, “Charlotte’s Web” (1952, Harper & Brothers) also shaped my vision of barns. Fans of the story of Wilbur the pig and his friendship with Charlotte, a barn spider, remember the Zuckerman’s very large and very old barn. The barn was cozy and warm in the winter and breezy and cool in the summer, and smelled as barns should smell — “sort of a peaceful smell — as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world.” Of course, Wilbur was a terrific pig; humble, too.

The popular “Little House” books (1932-1943, Harper & Brothers) by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the dramatic television series of the same name contributed to my knowledge of barns as well. Mary nearly burned down the barn by accidentally knocking over a kerosene lamp — studying for an exam she didn’t even have to take.

Barns, the vernacular buildings of family farms, today are more commonly razed than raised. More than a year ago we talked about featuring barns in Evansville Living. I was inspired by a magazine my childhood friend Brenda and her husband Andy, both Iowans, had ordered for me. In each issue Our Iowa features the “Prettiest Farm in Iowa.” From that idea, we distilled a photo-heavy feature of barns and set out to identify some of the area’s best. Our timing was spot on. To celebrate the state’s 200th birthday, the Indiana Bicentennial Commission created the Bicentennial Barns Project, which identified 200 exemplary barns throughout the state.

Through social media, we asked our readers to suggest barns we might include in our story. As we talked to the owners of the barns, we were inspired by how their barns are used and enjoyed today. I hope you enjoy our story, “Our Barns,” page 34.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor

Keep up with Kristen with her sometimes weekly blog, “300 Words,” at evansvilleliving.com/blog, and follow her on Twitter: @KristenKTucker.

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