University of Illinois round barns
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The three University of Illinois round barns played a special role in the promotion and popularity of the American round barn. They are located in the U.S. city of Urbana, Illinois on the campus of the University of Illinois (U of I). The University of Illinois was home to one of the Agricultural Experiment Stations, located at U.S. universities, which were at the heart of the promotion of the round barn. At least one round barn in Illinois was built specifically after its owner viewed the barns at the university. Though originally an experiment the three barns helped to lead the way for round barn construction throughout the Midwest, particularly in Illinois. The barns were listed as contributing properties to the U of I Experimental Dairy Farm Historic District, which was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
The Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Illinois was formed in 1888, one year after the Hatch Act provided federal funds. After its initial establishment U of I's College of Agriculture began to grow and it was divided into three distinct components, classroom instruction at U of I, the Agricultural Experiment Station, and a statewide extension service. In 1899 Eugene Davenport replaced George E. Morrow as Dean of the College of Agriculture, he immediately reorganized the college into four departments, agronomy, animal husbandry, dairy husbandry, and horticulture. The Experiment Station was originally established to "administer research activities within the College." The Department of Dairy Husbandry, seeking to increase milk productivity by promoting efficieny, prompted the Experiment Station to construct the Experimental Dairy Farm at an area known as South Farms. The layout and design incorporated three round barns.〔
The three round barns in the historic district were inspired by the work of Benton Steele, Samuel Francis ("Frank") Detraz, Isaac and Emery McNamee, and Horace Duncan, who, in various combinations, had built at least 8 round barns in Indiana by mid-1902. Steele was an aggressive marketer of the circular barn concept, and in early 1902 began advertising in various agricultural newsletters. In 1903 his concepts caught the attention of Professor C. B. Dorsey of the University of Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station, who traveled to Indiana to view the barns built by Steele and his associates. Dorsey was apparently impressed, for he hired Steele and Detraz to construct a barn on his farm in Gilberts, Illinois. By 1908 Dorsey's interest in round barns had caught the eye of his University of Illinois colleague Wilber J. Fraser.〔(T. Hanou, A Round Indiana: Round Barns in the Hoosier State, 1993, West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University Press. )〕 Fraser was the first head of the Department of Dairy Husbandry from 1902 - 1913. He was also a strong advocate of the round barn which he said offered the "economy of consideration, low maintenance, and labor efficiency." Fraser asserted that round barns had a better ability to withstand Midwest windstorms as well.〔(Campus Landmarks ), The Round Dairy Barns, University of Illinois. Retrieved 10 February 2007.〕 One barn was erected in 1907-08, 1910 or 1912 and the third c. 1912 or 1913, sources vary as to exact dates.〔(Round Barns ), U of I: A History of Campus, University of Illinois. Retrieved 10 February 2007.〕〔 The University of Illinois was then, and still is today, home to an Agricultural Experiment Station, these stations, located at universities throughout the United States were at the forefront of round barn promotion.〔(Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station ), Office of Research, University of Illinois. Retrieved 15 April 2007.〕〔(Raymond Schulz Round Barn ), (PDF), National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form, HAARGIS Database, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Retrieved 9 February 2007.〕〔Auer, Michael J. (The Preservation of Historic Barns ), Preservation Briefs, National Park Service, first published October 1989. Retrieved 11 November 2013.〕 The barns at the University of Illinois were instrumental in round barn era.〔 In Illinois, at least one round barn was built with direct inspiration from the U of I round barns.〔
The first barn was built around 1907 or 1908 and was known as the Twenty Acre Dairy Barn; it was erected at a cost of US$3,200. The 1910 Dairy Horse Barn set the university back an additional $2,000 and the 1912 Dairy Experiment Barn was the most expensive at $11,000.〔
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