Tn-layout Tn-1 Tn-3

Round New England Barn - $$4.95

Round Barns, a unique architectural oddity of the 1900s, are NOW at the cutting edge of green architecture. There are still over 100 in existence.. As usual this one comes in three sizes- (approx) HO, N, & Z scales with the roof removable giving access to the interior making way for some serious farming play.

Round Barn-downloadable cardmodel from Fiddlersgreen

Round, Circular, and Multi-Sided Barns- downloadable cardmodel


Fiddlersgreen Round Barn
Round Barn folk

The round barn concept was called a "noble experiment" a century and a half ago, but is now considered a symbol of modern architecture. With about a hundred ancient examples still standing and in operation, Round Barns are now looked at as being new and modern.

This downloadable Round Barn, (actually Octagonal), has a hinged roof that lets you see the interior and what makes the Round Barn concept so important again. (18 cows included :)

 New England Round Barn YouTube Hotlink

Round Stone Barn at Pittsfield, Ma


Although round barns symbolize the culmination of efficient, labor saving designs for dairy barns of the animal-powered era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Shaker community of Hancock, Massachusetts, pioneered the round barn design in New England in 1826 with their Round Stone Barn.Round Barn at Pittsfield Ma
Hancock Shaker Round Stone Barn, Pittsfield, Mass
The United Society of Shaking Quakers, or Shakers as they were commonly known, strove for Round Barn ventilator clippingideals of simplicity and efficiency, and this famous round stone dairy barn at the Hancock Shaker village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, exemplified their vision. After the settlement's largest dairy barn burned in 1825, Elders William Deming and Daniel Goodrich conceived of this radical round barn-years before polygonal and round barns were in vogue. Completed in 1826, the huge barn was almost ninety feet in diameter and housed fifty-two cows !!

"The interior," they said, "was designed so that a great number of workers might be simultaneously engaged at their tasks and no person be in another's way." It had a fort-like security in its nearly yard wide walls; and there was an immense hay-storage area in its center. The center supports created a ventilating column that ended in a louvered cupola at the top.

Round Stone Barn LayoutOn the circular driveway floor, which was fifteen feet wide, there was enough room for two hay wagons to pass each other and empty their loads into the center mow. Initially, this area was designed for threshing, too, but the Round Barn soon proved too big for its own design and finally was used only as a cattle barn. Countless other smaller round barns were built, however, and many of them still remain-mostly in Vermont-and operate efficiently.

In an effort to create an American farm architecture based upon functional principles, the Hancock Barn (which partially burned in 1870) was a noble experiment. After nearly one hundred and fifty years, it can still be considered a symbol of modern design.

In few vernacular buildings do the dramatic effects of space and color, of height and depth unfold as they do in the circular barn with aisle. No better example could be found than the Shaker barn at Hancock,(see above) and the visitor cannot help but be astonished as he enters the great doorway, and stands at a railing overlooking the mow. He will involuntarily look down some ten feet or so, and in his mind's eye, because the barn is now no longer in use, see the extraordinary spectacle of the heads of cattle facing into the mow from which they were fed. Thirty feet above him he will see a superb ceiling in which rafters radiate from the ring of the cupola, and light from cupola and clerestory combine to cast a glow on piled hay in daytime and almost a flame at sunset.

Pierre was busy creating a round barn for Fiddlersgreen (Apr-2011). Here are a few early photos..(above)
d Barn downloadable cardmodel looking from the frontd Barn downloadable cardmodel looking from the rear
These are front (left) and rear photos for the Fiddlersgreen finished Round Barn that comes in TWO scales (HO and N approximately). The clumps of sponge-like green foliage were bought from a model train shop.

Round Barns and their Structure
Round Barn's Floor  joists
These are the floor joists resting on a sturdy column from a 12' tree
Multisided spacious barn
The wagon floor (above the cow stables) supports the entire roof as well as the massive conical extension over the roof.. Supporting each column shown is another coming up from the stable floor to the wagon floor.
Looking up in a Poly-Sided BarnThis round structure in the middle of the barn not only helps to support the roof but also acts to contain the hay. It would be called the 'Mow'

Most surviving round and multi-sided barns in New England, however, were built on dairy farms during the early 1900s. A covered ramp leads to the top-story hayloft, cows are stabled in stanchions on the middle level, and manure storage is in the basement.


What people say...
A tid bit of forgotten History. I was born and raised in Mannington, WV. We also had a "Round Barn." Which is now a museum there.

Round Barn in Mannington WVThe story I was told was, the beliefs of the people who build the barn, believed that evil spirits hid in corners and dark places. Thus the round barns. Don't know if there is any truth in it but that's what I was told years and years ago when we lived there..Bob Martin

Round Barn preliminary sketch
March 12, 08. ..First sketch of the future Rounded Barn Cardmodel. Sketch thanks to Sparky

George Washington's Round barn
George Washington had this round barn built on his farm in 1792

There will be (or already is!) a new hexagonal barn accurate re-production at the site.

18th Century painting of a Red Round barn
This is an old painting done on wood of a red round barn. Notice how the stone at the base goes only around the front of the barn and the trees seem to be verrry tall !!

Circular and Polygonal barns are all of the second half of the nineteenth century or later, and their territory covers most of agricultural North America. It would be interesting to know something about their builders -why they so ignored tradition as to embark on a structure involving elaborate setting up, the inevitable presence of pie-shaped rooms and consequent inconvenience, and the elimination of the help of neighbors in the old fashioned "bee:'

Round Barn in Hawkesbury Onterio, Canada While documentary proof is lacking, there must have been farmers with a flair for mathematics who knew the round barn enclosed the least wall area, and could calculate the comparative floor areas of square and circle, subtracting the corners. From that they would argue that they had an economical space in the circle and the advantage of a clean and easy sweep on threshing floor and cattle stalls.

History provides no evidence of primitive circular or polygonal barns, but the circular plan in house building goes back in Britain to the Bronze Age people whose round houses were constructed of unsquared boulders. In comparatively recent times, polygonal houses were not uncommon, though not all were as distinguished in their design or their occupants as the hexagonal house in Washington, known as the Octagon and the present headquarters of the American Institute of Architects. It was built in the 1790's and lived in for a time by President Madison following the burning of the White House.

Polygonal Barn in Edmonton Alberta 1897
This sturdy Polygonal Barn was just being built in 1897 in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. The Barn's solid wooded exterior served to keep the livestock warm in the harsh Northern Winter.

That very able architect, President Jefferson, built himself an octagonal summer house in Bedford County, Virginia, in 1806, and so taken was he with its shape that he flanked the house with octagonal privies in the manner of gazebos on an eighteenth century gentleman's estate.'

If by the forties of the last century the octagon had not achieved popularity, it was not the fault of Orson Squire Fowler, a phrenologist practicing in New York, who wrote A Home For All, or the Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building: a book that followed his success with Amativeness or Evils and Remedies of Excessive Sensuality, which went through forty printings.' His second book, like the first, was an enormous success and its influence immense.

Polygonal Barn in Onterio
In the center of some early-twentieth century round barns is an enclosed wooden silo for storing fodder, while other round barns use the center for hay storage.

Mr. Fowler's crusade for the octagon with a promise for a healthy and better life may have had an influence on barn building, though it is more likely that the decision to use so exotic a form was based more on whimsy than any philosophical concept of the health-giving properties that might be found inherent in its shape. If the ordinary rectangular barn is considered a vanishing landmark in North America, those of unusual geometric shape must be fast approaching extinction. There were never many, and now there are few. The first circular barn in North America is a well cared-for museum piece, the Shaker barn at Hancock, Massachusetts. It is likely to be the last as well as the first of its line. (see above)

Round Red Barn at Shelburne Museum VT
The Big Round Red Barn 'Welcome Center' at Shelburne Museum, Vermont
Located in Vermont's scenic Lake Champlain valley, Shelburne Museum is one of the nation's finest, diverse, and unconventional museums of art and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds.
Shelbourn round barn. Shelbourn round barn
The "True Circular Era" of round barn construction spanned from 1889–1936, overlapping the octagonal era and finally dwindling out as round barns fell out of popularity. True circular round barns began to rise as improvements in construction techniques made their design more practical. As balloon framing, circular silos and truly self-supporting roofs were developed circular barns superseded polygonal structures and began to be built more and more. Despite the gains in popularity for circular barns, polygonal barns continued to be built up through the height of the True Circular Era.

Circular barns are almost certainly outnumbered by the polygonal, largely because the structural setting-up for the latter was easier and all contemporary building materials were available. The same was true for the circular, except that clapboard could be used only in barns of generous dimensions, and narrow boards, showing 3"-4" exposure to the weather, could be bent around the structural frame. Many beautiful barns were so built, but if set on the idea of the circular barn Round Barn raftersin wood, the farmer-designer could always use vertical planks or shingles with equally satisfactory results, or, alternatively, he could capture the feeling of the circle without the form by giving the barn ten or twelve straight sides. The visual effect, except at close quarters, is of a circular barn sheathed in the familiar horizontal boards.

To keep the devil from hiding in corners:
Eric Sloane in his An Age of Barns has an interesting theory in regard to artifacts popular with the Shakers, Quakers and Holy Rollers, each of which shows a particular form with perfection as its aim. They were not alone in history in regarding the circle as the perfect form, and a predilection for it is shown in sewing circles, singing and prayer circles. "Farmers made circular designs on their barns, and their wives sewed circular patterns on quilts. The Shakers used the circle in their 'inspirational drawings'... they took delight in round hats, rugs and boxes; and they made round drawer-pulls and hand-rests for their severely angled furniture. There is a saying that the round barn was intended 'to keep the devil from hiding in corners'."

The early round barns had cattle stanchions on the first floor with the whole of the loft used for hay and feed storage. As design progressed later barns possessed a central space which rose up from the ground level through the entire building. The cattle stanchions in this variation of round barn were arranged around a circular manger on the lower level. Above the stanchion level a circular wagon drive allowed hay to be loaded and unloaded into the central mow as the wagon circled the perimeter.

Side view of a Wooden Round Barn in Canada
Two views of the same round lovely round barn with a long enclosed ramp for protection form those cold Canadian winters. Located in St-Benoit-du-Lac, Quebec
Wooden Round Barn in Canada
Note the ventilating 'chimneys and cupola of this same great rounded barn. And the clever use of a square window over the ramp entrance.

Massive White wooden Round BaarnA farmer from Vermont or Quebec who was the owner of a circular or polygonal barn would find much that was familiar in many of the buildings of antiquity in Europe. He would, of course translate what he saw in marble columns and walls and floor of fine mosaic tiles to the barn at home, and, on a broader scale, he would recognize the circular central space, the surrounding aisle and the shafts of light from clerestory windows forming a pattern on walls and walkways. To see this, he might be standing in the fourth-century church of San Constanza in Rome, or in any one of several baptisteries that were built on the same basic principle of high central illuminated space and low aisles. The polygonal barn outside of Edmonton has all the characteristic features of the medieval baptistery, but has, in addition, a central post which forms the pivot and support for the radiating rafters. It is not too far-fetched to see in this structure another ecclesiastical prototype-the chapter house at Wells Cathedral in which a central column merges with the ribbed vaulting of the ceiling.

A fine Octogonal wooden barnAfternoon light and Round Barn window
This very 'architectural' small hexagonal barn has a very dominating mansard roof for maximum storage of hay. The cupola above has louvers for ventilation. This is the rounded barn that has been chosen to be the influence for the round barn for the Fiddlersgreen New England Village. This one lives at Ferrisburg, Vermont

In the Shaker barns at Hancock, (see above) a cluster of eight posts are required to support the lantern or cupola and the four windmill-like "trusses" that give extra stability to the structure. Not common are those polygonal barns in which a silo is the central feature-it may be contained within the roof, or surprisingly, emerge above it as in the stone Saskatchewan barn.

Like their ecclesiastical predecessors, the circular and polygonal barns had a plan arrangement based on use. The church was used for the assembly of people in the center, and ceremonial processions in the aisle, while the barn established the major space for the storage of hay and the aisle for a variety of uses. Conceivably, a large circular barn couldShingled Round Barn in Vermont be built in which the aisle could be defined only by a parapet, but that would have produced a building with a diameter of say eighty feet' and a considerable number of problems to be solved in wood. The ring of posts reduced the diameter by as much as twenty-four feet at Hancock, which still left forty-eight feet in the mow. Consequently, only the smaller barns have a mow without aisles, and the uses to which the aisle was put found accommodation elsewhere.

This was, and still is, an astonishing architectural monument to the skill of its designer, and the masons and carpenters who put it together in 1865 on the foundations of an earlier one of 1824. Not surprisingly, it attracted much attention as a new and exotic shape in Massachusetts, and over the years drew increasing numbers of the proponents and publicists of the new "scientific agriculture:' By the 1880's, its design was given wide circulation in the leading farm journals. "As progressive farmers on the Great Plains were advised, so they built, and during the last two decades of the century timber variants of the Round Stone Barn appeared nearly everywhere along the western frontier. A number still survive, especially in Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, providing to this day the tribute of imitation to what an agricultural writer of the mid-century called 'the superb ingenuity of the Shaker builders of Hancock, whose circular barn should always stand as a model for the soundest dairying practices.

Round silo in NebraskaIn Dairy Farming, a book published in the United States in 1879, a chapter was devoted to the merits of the "American Octagonal Barn" over the rectangular, in the expectation that it would prove a boon to the dairy farmer. The two principal advantages of the eight-sided barn, as the writer saw it, were economy of material, and the open floor, uncluttered by posts, for the free handling and storage of hay. As an example of economy, he cites an octagonal barn designed to replace four standard barns destroyed by fire. The old barns had a "basement area of 7,000 square feet and the octagon only 5,350-yet the internal capacity of the latter was greater:' The writer saw no structural difficulty in designing an octagonal barn for a thousand-acre farm without aisle posts 150 feet in diameter. He gives a specification describing the timbers that would go into his great barn, and sums up by saying "its external form being that of an octagon-cone, each side bears equally upon every other side, andWell kept rounded barn has great strength without cross ties or beams. It requires no more material or labor than the ordinary roof.

The editor comments in conclusion that the octagon will not likely recommend itself to English notions because it is so totally different from anything to which his countrymen were accustomed. Even in North America, the octagonal barn with a clear span of 150 feet in wood would have caused a sensation in 1879 as it would in 1972.

The more sides to the barn, the greater the difficulty, visually, in distinguishing one from the other.. Round barns are truly remarkable as architecture, but even more so because they were designed empirically without benefit of the structural engineer with his precise knowledge of how timber of given dimensions behaves under tension or compression in normal or adverse conditions. It took a brave and creative men to build the Round Wooden or Stone Barns.

Cutaway DETAILS of the round barn
Hexogonal Wooden Barn
Octogonal Wooden Barn
Two different types of Round Barns
Vermont Round Barn
Fine Red and Round Barn
This (left) Octagonal Barn has a little milk barn tucked in behind it. The Round Barn (right) shows off it's well constructed 'bank'
EIght-sided barn with spring house
A striking 8 sided barn. On the right is the charming little building in the foreground once served as a milk and spring house but is now a granary.

Some construction details for the Fiddlersgreen Round Barn..
Round Barn -hay storage
The distinctive circular shape allowed these barns to take advantage of gravity to move hay from the loft to the cow stable below.This photo shows the 'hay' sitting on the lower floor. (Its really colored lichen)

The Cow and hay area sketch
In many cases, a silo was constructed to rise up through the round barn's center. A labor saving design, the round barn was promoted, for a time, by agricultural colleges as a progressive way to house dairy cattle.
This is a sketch of how the cow stables should look
Round barn showing the Cow stableShowing the wagon deck and the empty cow stable below. There is a set of inner doors for the main entrance
The round barn's walls assembled
Since this photo was taken all the tabs but ONE have been removed.. The remaining tab is glued to the roof and acts like a hinge.
Inside of the Round Barn's roof
Inside of the Round Barn's roof

The Round Barn's roof is in three pieces to create that lovely flair resembling a gentleman's bowler hat.. The style is called 'mansard'

Bob Martins Mini BarnBy the 1920s round barn construction had begun to decline in some locations.
Several reasons have been given for the decline in the popularity of round barn designs. The standardization of the construction industry and the resulting decline in timber framing following the American Civil War is one possible reason. Another possibility is that the mechanization of American agriculture was more suited to rectangular barn design.

When it's roof starts leaking ANY barn is doomed. Here's a Round Stone Barn ravaged by the elements, dying slowly (and sadly) in this Vermont field.