We don't know when the old barn was built. It was here when the first Downings came to the farm. But we can tell that the barn wasn't built all at once. The original, small barn was built of logs. A previous owner of the farm then added on to that, making the barn both much longer, and two stories tall. The addition wasn't done with logs, but with a more modern, frame style of construction. But the log portion of the barn is at the north end, and the log wall can be seen in the photos below. The second photo shows the transition from log to frame construction.
A second addition at a later date extended the length of the barn. This addition is not noticeable from the outside, but an examination inside reveals joints and a slight difference of materials used in the extension.
The upstairs portion of the barn -- the hayloft or hay mow -- allows an up close look at the post-and-beam construction that supports the barn.
No nails or joist hangers here. The heavy beams and posts are held together by wooden pegs driven through holes bored -- by hand -- through the timbers. The photo below shows a typical joint with four pegs. The pencil marks the builder used to line up the holes a century ago are still visible.
Actually, there are two barns on the farm. The barn described above, which holds the milk cows, is at left in the photo above. The smaller building in the center is known as the "heifer shed," it serves as shelter for heifers -- young cows who haven't had their first calf and thus haven't started milking. The barn on the right is used to store hay, and is known as Andersons' Barn. That's because it originally stood on land owned by the Anderson brothers. The Andersons' 80 acres adjoined the Downing farm, and was purchased by the Downing family. In the early 1960s the barn was moved to its present location...but that's a whole 'nother story.
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5323 Royalton Road
Braham, MN 55006
Dave & Tammy Downing
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