Through the Barn Doors (PHOTO GALLERY)Published 11:13pm Friday, July 25, 2014
The Pennsylvania Dutch barn stands like a sentry guarding its past and preserving its future.
The big, red barn on the Luverne Highway, stands proudly at 45×80-feet and three levels tall and has the distinction of being the largest Pennsylvania Dutch barn south of Kentucky.
“The barn is off the road and a lot of people probably go by without even noticing it,” said Bonnie Holland, who owns and maintains the historic structure.
In 1926, Parke Thompson built the stately barn using lumber from his plantation and stones that were picked up in the fields.
“Parke Thompson was a wealthy landowner and the barn was used as breeding house for animals,” Holland said. “He exclusively raised silver heel hogs and transported them to Chicago for shows and judging. So, he had a very upscale and highly regarded hog operation.
“He also raised donkeys, horses, cows and mules on the lower level of the barn had stalls for the animals and feeding troughs that ran almost the entire length of the barn.”
Holland said hay was stored on the two upper levels of the barn and there are openings in the ceilings that allowed the hay to be funneled into the feeding troughs. A concrete section of the ground floor was used for grain storage.
“A very interesting and unique feature of the barn was the animals’ watering system,” she said. “On the back side of the barn, there was a large holding tank and, from there, water filtered to troughs inside and a trough outside the barn.”
Another unique feature of the barn was a dip tank designed so that the animal could walk through it as a way of treating them for flies and other insects.
“The design of the barn was well thought out and, when I bought the house and property, I knew that it should be preserved as it was,” Holland said.
At the time Holland purchased the property, in the late 1990s, the barn was unpainted.
“I love color and I thought it should be a big, red barn,” she said. “I did make one noticeable change. The area that was the gain bin was turned into an apartment. Another change was that I had stairs built to the upper levels. The only way to get from level to the other had been up a straight ladder on the wall and I didn’t want to climb that.”
Holland said it was important to her and to the preservation of the barn that the watering and feeding troughs remain as they were originally designed.
The doors and stalls are original to the early construction so, for the most part, the Pennsylvania Dutch barn that is part of the Pike County countryside is much as it was the day it was built.
Holland said the history of Pike County is preserved in different ways. She strongly supports the efforts of the Pike County Historical and Genealogical Society to preserve the barn culture of the area.
The historical society is committed to preserving the barns and country stores that played such an important role in Pike County’s history. In an effort to do so, the countywide historical society is asking all Pike Countians who have an old barn or an old country store on their property to share photographs of these structures and related information so they may be included in two planned publications, one for the barns and the other for the country stores.
The structures do not have to be standing or in use to be included in the publications.
Also requested is identifying information including the date or possible date the structure was built, the owner and interesting stories related to the structures.
Submit photographs, stories and genealogical information to K. J. Folmar, 423 County Road 2201, Goshen, AL 36305. For more information, call (334) 484-2527.