An Amish crew from Hastings Roofing and Construction near Milford, Ind. – specializing in restoring old barns – has been working to restore the barn on CR 700 East where Sullivan Road dead ends near Sechrist Lake in Tippecanoe Township.
The barn – not in use for several years – was built in 1900 according to Kosciusko County property records found online. It still has the wooden stanchions used for milking cattle, some original wooden beams with the bark still showing and an old pulley system used to grab hay off a wagon and place it in a loft.
“The barn has been there a long time and it was in disrepair with the doors falling off,” said Sullivan by phone, now living in Texas. “But the structure inside was still pretty good and the beams were fine.”
He added the restoration is also a way to honor the memory of his late parents, Rudyard “Kip” and Mary Sullivan.
“I like the concept of these old barns being restored,” Sulliva said.
He also mentioned that he and his son visited the barn site during the summer of 2011 and saw trees growing up in and around the barn. After Dan’s mother passed away in February 2012, Dan and Jill decided to have the area around the barn cleared and the barn restored.
As part of the restoration, a sign reading “Barbee Ranch” will again be placed on the barn. “I remember that sign being there when I was a kid,” Sullivan said.
Kip and Mary Sullivan had purchased the barn sometime after World War II, along with a field to the south, and they used it for storage. The barn was once part of a farm owned by the Kuhn family. A nearby house to the north was also part of the farm, but the Sullivans did not purchase it.
The barn was sagging and still sitting on a foundation of rocks, noted Jack Rhoades who lives nearby and is helping to oversee the restoration project. Jack’s wife, Beckie, grew up with Dan Sullivan and Jill Lesh in the nearby Sullivan Park housing addition located on land developed by the Sullivan family.
Jack noted the crew had to raise the barn up a few feet and place poles underneath for support. It will now have metal siding and a metal roof, but the main structure underneath will remain the same. Sullivan commented he would like to have school children visit the barn to see how life on a farm used to be.
He admitted it would have been less costly to tear the barn down. “If I was in the farming business, that would have been the cheaper route to go,” he said. “But I’m not in the farming business.”
Depending on the weather, the barn restoration could be completed by the end of this week. Sullivan said he has no immediate plans to use the barn for anything specific.