Preserving history one building at a time part 1 of 2

It’s exciting to be getting a really old office!

Have you ever watched one of those restoration D.I.Y. shows on television? Barnwood Builders, Rehab Addict, Restored, This Old House, and so on? Wikipedia has an A-Z listing of 114 programs:

“Pages in category “Home renovation television series”
The following 114 pages are in this category, …”

 Many of our cities are growing very fast, and though some buildings are being moved and restored, unfortunately many are being demolished without a second thought. Many times, this might be from the building not being structurally sound.

20180602_155820Sometimes though, the buyers do not know the value of the history of the building and just need it gone to make use of the property for why they purchased it.


As I drive to the store or to our own property, I see many buildings going to decay from the property being purchased, but the plans for its use are not beginning for a couple of years. A house or building not being used seems to deteriorates very fast. Some of the buildings I see, are old barns on personal property that are not being repaired because life and careers are changing. Sometimes a building just looks old and no one thinks about its value in our history or how it can be currently used with a little fixing up.


20180514_164432.jpgThis brings me to the old wooden silo I saw a few months ago. I really hadn’t seen one like this in my life, not that I can remember. I had seen an old wooden corn crib in Nebraska and in photos, but this building just caught my eye and stuck in the back of my mind. So I did a little genealogical research to see what was in its future.

The owners of the property, and therefore what is on it, buy and sell 20180524_162217properties all the time. They had never had anyone ask for one of their buildings before, and so they had to do a little research on their own. Were the new owners going to want the buildings? Were the current users of the property using it for their business? Were there any restrictions on the buildings on the property? All was found clear and so I acquired an old rundown wooden silo. I really had no idea what I had just acquired.

In trying to find out about the history of Silo’s in America, I found out that this particular type of wooden silo was not the most common type of wooden silo – That would be the rectangular and the stave.

There is even a poem written about a Silo:

The real sentiment concerning building materials was in the form of a poem by W. Livingston Larned:

                             “ The Signal of the Silo”

    And whether made of concrete, or stave, or iron, or tile,

  Or woods of all creation, from up Maine ways to the Nile,

      Or whether concrete fellers get the local upper hand,

   God bless ‘em –they’re all silos, for the better of the land.

     A munch of tasty silage, makes the dairy records grow;

    Who gives a hand for feed bills and a winter full of snow

The herd is plump as butter – and if folks have cause to thank

   It’s because each farmer’s silos is a sort o’ savings bank.


There are a few sites that talk about the history of wooden silos:

The Evolving History of the Agricultural Silo: Hay Storage in the New World

The practice of hay harvesting and storage has changed with improving technology, with the process especially revolutionized by the invention of the silo.

By Cynthia G. Falk | March 2015

Silos: an agricultural success story

Peggy Lee Beedle

Detailed History of Tower Silo HERE – International Silo Association (a .pdf document)

So what do I do with an old Silo?

My family helped me in deconstructing it and moving it onto our property. I plan on restoring it and using it as an office, a fitting building for genealogical research. I have saved items for shadow boxes and frames, for key hangars and decorations. There is some cleaning and sanding and sealing to be done first, and painting of the outside. The roof will have to be new for building codes and snow loads, but the design can remain the same. Plenty of photographs and measurements were made before the deconstruction, I hope they were enough.

Part 2 of this may not appear for a year as time and building will have to take place first.

Published by humblegenealogist @ we do the digging so you can enjoy the tree

Starting in 1970, the experience and journey has created well-seasoned researching techniques. Current and active participation in continuing education, staying up to date with technology, and including weekly contact with other professional genealogists: including family historians, genealogy clubs and historical societies, keeps the knowledge and ongoing learning in an ever changing world up to date.

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