Raising A Legacy


It's hard to miss.

Tucked off a slope from Winn Road northeast of Weston, its red-with-white-trim exterior pops out against the backdrop of a blue sky.

And has for nearly a century.

t;To passing motorists, it's obviously a nicely maintained vintage barn. But to Preston and Arlene Winn, it also is the centerpiece of their nearly 150-acre farm and a monument to the three generations of Winn family members who preceded them since the homestead was settled in 1875.

Unlike owners of other historic structures in the Valley that have been neglected, forgotten or destroyed, the Winns have upgraded and restored their barn, carefully researching its heritage and preserving its craftsman-like character.

"This is my barn, so I'm interested in it and everything that's gone into it," Preston Winn said recently as he explained features of what was state-of-the-art construction. "It's very important to see how things used to be done. The quality of the workmanship that stands the test of time. We don't see structures like this built today."

Constructed in 1916 from plans supplied through state college extension services, it took $3,000, 30 days and 30 men from the harvest crew to complete. "My grandfather, George W., sawed all the boards and the other 29 did all the assembly," Winn explained.

The fir lumber cost $7 per 1,000 board feet and was shipped by rail from the Willamette Valley. The original roof of cedar shingles lasted nearly 60 years before it was replaced.

The ground level of 2,400 square feet was divided into two sections: horse stalls with a dirt floor on the east side, a concrete floor with waste drainage for a dairy cow milking operation on the west.

Winn said the horse side probably accommodated between 12 and 16 stalls. On the dairy side, there were about 18 metal milking stanchions, some of which still exist.

The barn was built next to a slope, therefore horses and wagons could access the upper level -- also consisting of 2,400 square feet -- from the higher ground. Grain was stored in bins on that second floor and fed to the livestock below through four chutes.

"They were pretty smart folks, you know," Winn said. "They had it figured out."

The exposed dome-like ceiling resembles an upside-down boat, with boards and supports tied, curved, and laminated together. Windows and ventilators were installed. And after a few years, electricity -- generated from a dam George W. Winn built in nearby Dry Creek -- supplied enough light to get by.

"My grandfather was very forward thinking," Winn said.

Little went to waste. Wood used for forming the concrete walls then became part of framing for the building. Also, metal from linseed oil cans from the first paint job were used to seal the grain bins.

By the 1930s, when tractors started pulling the farm equipment and milking was no longer profitable, the lower part of the barn became home to Hereford cattle. But the livestock disappeared nearly four decades ago when the farm became strictly a wheat, pea and strawberry operation, and the barn then essentially became a family storage unit.

Although repainted in 1995 for $3,000 -- the initial cost to build the entire structure -- it was essentially not used from 1973 on, from a commercial standpoint.

But that's changed in the past three years, or so. "It's so expensive to maintain a barn like this, we decided we had to do something to make some money," Winn said.

So the barn has been cleared and cleaned out. The dirt once stomped on by horses' hooves has been covered by wood, doors have been restored, and upper story windows and some siding on the south end have been replaced.

The barn has been center stage for three weddings, a dance is planned in October and the Winns hope to book other special events.

"We want to see this structure maintained and without revenue generation, it might disappear like other structures and be forever gone and forgotten," Winn said.

"And to preserve our heritage. I don't want to lose that. And, on the other hand, I want to share."


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