ISU Barn Stories

ISU Barn Stories

Horse Barns and Dairy Barns at Iowa State University

Never mind VEISHEA - ISU Horse Barns Still Site of Greatest Show

VEISHEA may be history – but another spring celebration is still drawing raves at Iowa State University -- even though it’s been essentially the same basic performance for 93 years.

VEISHEA may be history – but another spring celebration is still drawing raves at Iowa State University -- even though it’s been essentially the same basic performance for 93 years.

That’s when Olive, Al and Emmy, followed by a host of other foals make their debuts at the horse barns – located just south of the Union Pacific railroad tracks in the northeastern corner of campus. The initial trio arrived early -- in January and February – to be followed by about three dozen foals that will be born between mid-March and mid-May.

Horse barns with snow. This is the west wing of Iowa State’s U-shaped horse barns. Another, separate horse barn is just east of these buildings.
Sign at the Horse Barn.

That’s when the curtain goes up on a production at least as popular as Cinderella or The Sound of Music. Despite some concern about the fate of the campus horse barns, this show looks like it will be running for a very long time to come.

Horse barns. Spring brings at least a couple dozen foals into the horse barns, which were built between 1923-1927.
Sign at the Horse Barn.

This assurance comes from the head of Animal Science, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and, above all, from ISU President Steven Leath.

This is good news, not just for children visiting the barns, but also for ISU students, alumni and just about everyone in the Ames area who knows about the horse barns. Watching the foals take their first wobbly steps, become weanlings and then yearlings is the “must see” show of the year. And the price is right: It’s free. Visitors are welcome to stop by and see the horses along University Boulevard (formerly Pammel Drive) any time. Just show up and -- perhaps --bring a small donation in form of a carrot or a bit of apple.

Eight-year-old Trysten Collins (of Ames) is one of legions of visitors who come to meet and greet the new foals (and their mothers).
Girl and horse.

Some of the season’s foals are owned by clients and will be returned to them along with their mothers. At least some of Iowa State’s foals will be sold later to thoroughbred stables or quarter horse owners for racing or pleasure. But ISU always keeps enough weanlings to replenish its supply of horses for its hands-on classes, which are largely at capacity.

And student interest is increasing to the point that all eight equine courses are full and might need to expand beyond the 415 places now being offered.

Mare with foal drinking. This act between foal and mother has been playing steadily for 90-some years at the ISU horse barns.
Mare and foal at the Horse barn.

The ringmaster for this ongoing performance is Nikki Ferwerda. Classes she teaches include equine reproduction, horse behavior and training, and equine evaluation. Ferwerda is also barn manager for both the campus horse barns and the new equine learning center 2 miles south of campus.

Perhaps above all, Ferwerda is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all the 45-60 horses owned by Animal Science and its clients, as well as the breeding operation, which produces between 18-25 foals in an average year.

Without the three horse barns on campus there would be no stage for the Big Show.

The first two barns were built in 1923 (and connected by a machine shed three years later). Included in each wing was a tiny two-room apartment for student employees.

A third barn was built a few meters to the east in 1927, but it serves today as a teaching laboratory.

View from north of the main Proudfoot-designed horse barns.
Horse barn.

All three are classics of their kind: They were constructed of clay tile with a gambrel style roof (think Mansard) and numerous gabled and shed dormers for ventilation. The west barn built in 1923 still has some of the original wood block floors in its tie stalls.

Unlike the story of the Three Little Pigs, you could huff and puff and not blow these barns away.

The original U-shaped barns were for college-owned horses, beginning back when most farm work was done with draft teams. When Iowa State sold its last pair of Belgians in 1960, the barns were minimally maintained, but the activity level dipped for a few decades. Then, for a variety of reasons, including the growth of the race track business (and the opening in 1989 of Prairie Meadows just east of Des Moines) horses were back on the main card.

The Animal Science department re-built its pleasure horse inventory and then added thoroughbreds – which make up about half of the barns’ breeding activity today.

In between, the horse barns endured some difficult times. In 1989 barn #3 was converted to a facility for basic ruminant nutrition research. Having no cuds, horses were shut out. That lasted until 1998, when ruminant research was relocated to Kildee Hall. Then Barn #3 was restored as an equine teaching facility.

The two other barns went decades without facelifts of any substance. Over time roofs began to leak and the buildings were generally reduced to minimum maintenance budgets.

By 2005, however, interest in quarter horses and Iowa-born thoroughbreds sparked both opportunity and student enrollment. The result was an infusion of $155,000 the following year. Roofs were re-shingled. In the last four years, the two student-employee apartments have been painted and outfitted with new appliances.

Part of main barn, and the third barn. The barn to the left of the main structure contains the birthing stalls, along with classrooms.
Space for the horses.

Ferwerda, who became barn manager in 2012, proudly boasts that the barns today are in “great shape . . . sound, durable and in good repair.”

Better yet, Barn #3 today houses three foaling stalls – each with two doors in case the mare blocks one giving birth. These stalls are constructed of materials designed to be thoroughly washed and disinfected after each use. There are also two stocks for artificial insemination and equine health care – such as dental work -- as well as offices and a classroom.

This is the only barn that is heated –- not so much for the benefit of the horses as for the comfort of the 80 or so students in semester-long classes. Another 300-400 students in other Animal Sciences courses spend at least some time in the horse barns as part of their semester’s class work.

Ferwerda predicts that program numbers would mushroom if she had enough staff to add equitation classes to the course offerings. Today, however, equine reproduction is the course in greatest demand. This is taught spring semesters, beginning in early January.

For this class Ferwerda aims to have 30-36 mares give birth. A few foals are born in January and February. That’s when Wildcat gave birth to Olive. Some arrive in May or early June.

But the main show occurs in March and April when there could be a birth a day and even multiple births on some days, according to Emma Schmitz, a junior in Mechanical Engineering, who has been working 15-20 hours a week at the barns for the past two years.

On average, the campus barns are home to three stallions and 20 mares (evenly split between thoroughbreds and quarter horses). Ferwerda says the stallions are permanently housed at the campus barns.

On the other hand, mares are routinely moved back and forth between the Equine Learning Center and campus barns. Reasons to be on campus include foaling, weaning, sales preparation and medical or dental treatment.

Just under half of the horses housed at ISU during the spring semester are “client” mares from private stables. Some are bred at Iowa State, while others arrive sometime during their gestation to foal. They are obviously returned with their foals as soon as they are fit.

Foals are kept indoors for 24 hours before they see the light of day.Mare and foals in the barn.

The other mares belong to Animal Science. Their foals are kept for class work until they are sold –- normally as yearlings, though some may be purchased as weanlings. Regardless of ownership, all of the mares (and foals) have two names: their official Jockey Club or American Quarter Horse Association registered names and their “barn names.”

For example, “A Sudden Exception,” is known locally as “Laverne;” “She’s Always Good” is “Libby.” “Five Alarm Fancy” goes by “Amber.” And “Sweet Talkin’ Beauty” is just “Sierra.” Needless to say, the 15 students working with the horses at the barns all have their own favorites. But they also share one common characteristic: they love the horses – especially when the sun is shining and the foals are frisky.

Visitors are welcome almost anytime. However, an appointment is needed for more formal tours of the barns or visits to the paddocks behind the barns. These can be arranged by phoning Ferwerda at 515-290-7669.

One satisfied visitor summed up her visitation experience when she described the staff as “very sweet” because “they showed my mom and sisters around on Mother’s Day.”

In fact, almost every spring day is Mother’s Day at the campus barns.

Footnote: Be sure to check the north façade of Barn #3 (Animal Husbandry Department Horse Barn) where you will see a slightly faded message in large letters for the benefit of passengers of the dozen or so streamliners that stopped in Ames every day from 1927 to the late 1950s: "AMES, Animal Husbandry Department, Horse Barn"

Iowa State College sign on side of east barn: This message was created for passengers in the 20 streamliners a day that passed by 100 yards north of the horse barns.
Sign on side of a Horse barn.


(Story and photos Submitted by James T. Emmerson, Mar 28, 2016)

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Meet the Team – Nick & Nikki

Nick & Nikki could be names for a pair of draft horses.

In fact, they are a team that pulls their share of work at Iowa State’s historic, 93-year-old horse barns. Nick and Nikki are ISU students who work at – and live in – the barns, along with 25-30 horses, their two cats and a dog.

They are part of a tradition that goes back to 1923 for men – namely, living in the barns’ two tiny apartments in exchange for keeping the horses fed, watered and tidied.

Nicole Sterling and Nicholas Hurd-Johnson live in a horse barn. The sign on the north side of this barn was created for passengers riding in the 20 streamliners a day that passed by on tracks 100 yards north of the horse barns until the mid 1950s.
Nick and Nikki live in a horse barn.

Women were first hired only to work with the horses around 1989, but were allowed to actually live in the barns about six years later, according to associate professor Peggy Miller-Auwerda, who was in charge of the ISU equine program at the time.

Today female students are firmly entrenched in both the work and housing rotations.

Best estimates suggest that some 125-150 students have earned part of their college expenses by living in the barns and doing the chores.

One of these students was Floyd Andre, who arrived in Ames from Pasadena, California in 1927 without means to otherwise support himself. Much later he was named Dean of Agriculture, a position he held from 1949-1972.

Another barn occupant during Andre’s time was Justus A. Benson, Jr. His son, Chuck (of Ames), says Justus was one of seven children living on a farm near Sheldon, Iowa. His family was just scraping by, so the only way Justus could afford college was by working (and living) in the barns. Floyd Andre and Justus Benson remained fast friends forever.

Today their successors in the barns are:

Nikki (Nicole Sterling), 21, a senior in Animal Science from Mokena, Illinois (pop. 18,740), who has been living in the horse barns for 1.5 years.

Nick (Nicholas Hurd-Johnson), 21, also a senior in Animal Science, from San Jose, CA (pop. 945,942), who has lived in the barns for 3.5 years.

Nick, Abby (Nick’s dog), and Nikki.
Nick and Nikki.

Both Nikki and Nick plan to graduate this December [2016].

Nikki wants to become an equine veterinarian while Nick is aiming to leave horses for a career in the meat industry.

Even though they need to be up in time to feed the horses at 6 a.m. -– sometimes pull weekend duty – and have to work in all kinds of weather, they both love their jobs.

Nick and Nikki work 20 hours a week. The first 10 hours cover the cost of apartment rental and utilities. For the second 10 hours, they are paid $9.50 an hour.

The apartments are far from swish: One main room (and window) with a sofa and loft bed overhead; a teeny kitchen and bathroom with shower. Well heated, Nikki says, but it can get too warm. The A/C is furnished by an open window or fan.

Nikki’s apartment.
Nick and Nikki.

Apart from each other, Nick and Nikki have no humans living nearby – although 13 other students are currently working part-time at the campus barns.

Nick’s apartment. The bunk is above the sofa.
Nick and Nikki.

This isolation – especially after dark -- was a major concern for administrators who feared for a long time that women might be at risk in a barn apartment.

For her part, Nikki says she has absolutely no worries. “Besides,” she adds, “Nick’s only a stone’s throw away.”

In fact, both Nikki and Nick say they enjoy their situation – especially their location which is “just across the road” from Lush Hall, where many of their classes are taught.

Particularly Nikki, who does not have a car.

One small problem, Nick says, has to do with not having an easily identified address. That makes something like ordering a pizza delivery a bit of a trick.

Another time, when he was stopped by Ames police (“don’t ask why”) they wanted to know his address. When he replied, “the horse barns,” Nick recalls, “they thought I was being a smart-ass.”

The next day he phoned the Campus police and requested a specific address. He now lives at 1050 North University Boulevard.

Nikki, on the other hand, still uses ISU Horse Barns as her address – but then adds the “middle one.”

Against this idyllic spring background of foals gamboling around the pens, Hurd-Johnson and Sterling still have to get up early, lug 50-60 pound bales of straw and muck out the stalls.

They also have to be careful. Both have almost been kicked in the teeth. Nikki was once head-butted hard enough to produce a large goose egg. She also broke a toe when a mare suddenly stepped backwards.

“You just need to keep remembering,” she said, “that all animals are unpredictable.” That even applies to Canaveral, a 25-year old stallion who you can hug and play with, Nick added.

Nikki and Nick with their favorite horse — Canaveral, a long-time resident who recently turned 25.
Nick and Nikki.

Their two main concerns aren’t the horses: It’s the mice and flies – lots of them – that can give fits. It’s what you expect around barn animals, so Nikki and Nick have to adapt. Which is why both have cats that are mousers ( Nick's "Bailey" and Nikki's "Paisley").

There’s also the occasional bat (but no rats), as well as raccoons and spiders to keep things interesting. Nick also has the company of Abby, his 7-year-old golden Labrador.

Bottom line.: Nick Hurd-Johnson and Nikki Sterling love their on-campus barn location, their work and their environment.

As Nikki put it, “I can see horses outside my kitchen and bedroom windows. And when I open my front door, there’s a horse in a stall.”

“Nothing,” she adds, “beats waking up every morning to horses outside your window.”

“My cat loves it, too.”

(Story and photos Submitted by James T. Emmerson, Mar 30, 2016)

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Campus Horse Barns still the best –
But a Few ISU Sites Hold Interest for Rural Iowans

If you want to see a barn – or, indeed, any animals -- on the Iowa State University’s central campus - you might almost be out of luck. Only the Horse Barns remain active on central campus – and they are a great show when the foals are born.

  Trysten Collins decided she needed an unobstructed view of Hero and her foal, Vivian. Trysten's father, Peter, calls the barns “Iconic” and says their presence on campus was a factor in his joining the engineering faculty at ISU in 2015..
Visitor and foal at the Horse Barn.

But there’s also another ex-barn now converted for classes and offices, as well as a handful of other sites that might interest someone who cares about barns and agricultural history.

For starters, check out the converted horse barn known today as Old Landscape Architecture on Farm House Lane. It’s only a few hundred yards south of the existing barns.

  Old Landscape Architecture Building, viewed from the north. This grand building, erected in 1901, originally stabled draft horses, as well as ponies for the Iowa State polo team. It was also central to training cavalry for World War I.
Old Landscape Architecture building.

It was built in 1901, primarily for horses and polo ponies (Iowa State had a competitive team). During World War I it was used to train horses (and men) in the cavalry.

Walk around the entire building in order to admire its grace and style. The large barn doors on the west façade have been replaced by a more modest entry up some stairs. The doors on the east façade, along with access to the haymow, have been largely replaced by windows and a fire escape.

  Old Landscape Architecture Building, viewed from the west. The original structure also housed a judging pavilion. But in 1938 the building was remodeled and occupied by Landscape Architecture until 1978. Today it houses for classes in agronomy and English.
Old Landscape Architecture building.

If you are there between 7.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. on Monday through Friday, you can get some idea of what the original interior must have looked like.

Right across the road is the Farm House Museum. It was built in 1860 on what was then prairie. The Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm was still in the planning stage (and only opened 9 years later). It served as a family home for at least 115 years before the three-story building was renovated and restored to reflect the beauty and look of the 50-year period from 1860 – 1910.

Today, the Farm House Museum is open weekdays from 12.30 to 4.00 p.m., but closed weekends. Admission is free (click here to see the ISU webpage).

After that, you might consider visiting the old Veterinary Quadrangle – built in 1912 (with additions in 1956 and 1962). For decades the original Quadrangle was hailed as “the finest in the country and excelled by but few of the European [veterinary] schools.” It originally housed livestock in the west wing.

Once the Stange Memorial Clinic was constructed across the road in 1938, some of the Quad’s stable space was set aside for a studio for Danish sculptor – Christian Petersen. He created two campus relief sculptures that still resonate with rural Americans.

The first is a seven-panel “History of Dairying” located in an idyllic closed forecourt of the old Dairy Industry (now known as Food Sciences) building on the east side of campus. In the center of Petersen’s 1934 creation are three jersey cows and a bull bent over a trough above a fountain’s waving pool.

  Dairy courtyard sculptures by Christian Petersen. One of artist/sculptor Christian Petersen’s finest pieces of work is tucked away in the inner courtyard of the Food Sciences (aka Dairy Industry) building. It’s a great place for relaxation or contemplation.
Sculptures by Christian Petersen.

This beautiful, isolated patch has been called one of Iowa State’s “best kept secrets.” If ever you coveted a place to relax and contemplate, this is it.

Alas, the building is locked on Saturdays and Sunday. Access during weekdays is between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

How to get there: Park in a lot or the ramp on Wallace Road. Walk to the rather grand semi-circular steps at the southeast corner of the building. Follow the corridor and take the first right. You will soon see the courtyard on your left. Don’t forget your camera and perhaps a snack.

Petersen’s other magnificent rural sculpture is known as “The Gentle Doctor” and depicts a veterinarian holding an injured puppy against a background of veterinary practices. Created in terra cotta, by Petersen in 1937, it was originally located at the Quadrangle on campus.

  "The Gentle Doctor." Petersen’s other major work, depicting aspects of rural life, is a bas relief depicting the work of a veterinarian. In front is a statue of a “gentle doctor” stroking a new-born puppy.
Sculptures by Christian Petersen.

When the Veterinary College moved off-campus, the sculpture followed. The original is inside, but a faithful replica of the entire work is easily visible at all hours in the Vet Med plaza just off Christensen Drive.

It’s a mile or so south of Campus off University Boulevard (the turning is not far from the southeast end of Jack Trice Stadium). Follow Christensen Drive until you think you are about to run out of building… The sculpture is just beyond the flagpole to your left (north).

Now for some bad stuff.

If you are a glutton for punishment, you might want to re-trace your steps and turn west on Mortensen Parkway until you pass Hayward Avenue and then have a look left at the U-shaped ISU Dairy Barns. They are today so deteriorated that they could be considered fodder for the ISU-sponsored Fire Training School.

At least your trip won’t be altogether in vain because you can still see the Dairy Farm Pavilion just to the east of the old barns. It was built in 1921 or 1922, is oval in shape and nicely sized. Like all pavilions, it is encircled by high windows for natural light and is quite similar in character to larger pavilions commonly built at major fair grounds.

  Judging Pavilion at site of old Dairy Farm. The dairy judging pavilion stands in contrast to the fate of the old dairy farm barns. It is being minimally maintained, though at present it is mainly used for storage.
Dairy Farm Pavilion.

The Pavilion’s future is still undecided, since the Dairy Farm has moved 3.7 miles away.

The building’s exterior trim and surroundings have been restored thanks to a joint effort by ISU students and faculty (with support from the dairy industry).

The Pavilion is only used today for storage, but Animal Science chair Don Beermann says he does not foresee this classic structure being demolished – at least during his tenure.

Dairy Pavilion sidebar:

Dairy Pavilion death surrounded by mystery.

The body of ISU graphics design senior Jon Lacina, 21, was found in the boiler room of the Dairy Pavilion after he had been missing for 82 days – from Jan. 22 to April 14, 2010. How he got there and how he died are still matters for discussion and speculation, but the State Medical Examiner called it an accidental death as a result of hypothermia.

[The boiler room door is down a few steps on the southwest side of the Pavilion.] For more details, see the Iowa State Daily.

Sidebar by James T. Emmerson, Apr 3, 2016:

Another Testament to the Importance of the Barns

Not only is the presence of the ISU Horse barns a magnet for perspective students, but it also has an impact on faculty prospects – and not just in agriculture.

For example, Peter Collins, who is widely published in Materials Science and Engineering, was heavily recruited out of the University of North Texas.

He writes that it was the first thing he saw on his first campus visit. “I was driven by the horse barns and was asked whether I could imagine another top tier university with such buildings. I personally thought the barns were iconic, and were an excellent of the ‘living history’ of ISU.”

Collins, who accepted the position in July 2015, adds this: “It is most appropriate that the first Land Grant institution would remember and preserve its roots. It is part of what makes ISU special.”

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Iowa State University Horse Barn & Dairy Barns

Historic Overview

The Iowa State University Horse Barn is of major architectural importance to Iowa and Iowa State.  The roof is gambrel style with turned up eaves. The roof is outfitted with handsome metal ventilators with lightning rods.  The roof includes numerous gabled and shed dormers that accommodate ventilation windows and haymow doors.  (Information from Barns at Iowa State website (also in the Iowa Barn Foundation Newsletter, September 2000).

Wide-angle view of the north side of the ISU Horse Barn
ISU Horse Barn.
Aerial view of the ISU Horse Barn - north is at the top.  At the bottom of the photo is University Blvd in Ames, IA - Stange Road is left out of photo (2008).
Arial view ISU Horse Barn.
Proudfoot, Bird and Souers of Des Moines served as the architectural firm.  The two wings designed to house animals were built in 1923; however, the name of the builder is not recorded.  The center wing designed by Proudfoot, Souers and Rawson of Des Moines was constructed by E. B. Castle in 1926.  This addition completed the U-shape design.  This is the north side.
ISU Horse Barn.
The interior of the building is largely original in both design and material.  Numerous box stalls, tie stalls (some with original wood block floors), and group-housing stalls are included along with feed storage, office, and student rooms.  The haymow covers the entire building.  The center wing, originally built in 1926 to house machinery, is currently used for that purpose and also accommodates a breeding stall area and a room for an equine treadmill.
ISU Horse Barn.
Below is the street (south) side of the Horse Barn. The two outside wings provide the various stall types for horses.  On this side the U shape provides a courtyard that is utilized for demonstrations in training and equitation as well as general use in the equine teaching program.  In the spring after colts are born there are interesting family scenes at the courtyard with kids admiring the small horses.
ISU Horse Barn.
Re-roofing, restoration of wood trim, and complete repainting was accomplished in the 1970s.  Repairs were made in 2006.  The barn now has a new roof, windows, doors, fencing, and repaired cupolas.  Also see the Highway 30 Barn Tour of 2008.
ISU Horse Barn.
A new ISU Campus Dairy Farm was developed in 1907 on the south side of Mortensen Road (south of the campus), when this wood-frame Dairy Barn was built (this photo dated 6-7-03).  In 1936 a large U-shaped masonry Dairy Barn and Milking Parlor was built, among other buildings.  See ISU Dairy Science History and the Story County Barn Tour of 2003).
ISU Dairy Barn.
2008 aerial view of the ISU dairy farm site - north is at the top.  Mortensen Road is out of view at the top.  The T-shaped red Dairy Barn near the top was "deconstructed" in 2010.  The U-shaped Dairy Barn and Milking Parlor at the bottom of the photo has been re-purposed.  Read "Doors Closed at Historic Iowa State University Dairy Barns" in the Fall 2003 Iowa Barn Foundation Magazine - (then scroll down to find the article) (PDF).
Arial view of ISU Dairy Barns.
Another view of the wooden Dairy Barn on June 7, 2003, while still in use.
ISU Dairy Barn.
Inside view of the Dairy Barn on July 5, 2009, after it was retired from service.
ISU Dairy Barn.
The Dairy Barn in Dec 27, 2009, as it deteriorates.
ISU Dairy Barn.
This photo was taken in March 17, 2010.  It had been determined that the barn was "structurally not very sound" and "The university did opt to have the building 'deconstructed,' meaning that instead of bulldozing it to the ground, the building will be carefully taken apart, and many of the parts will be salvaged and sold."  From Holstein World.
ISU Dairy Barn.

Some other links about the old ISU Campus Dairy Farm -

2007 newspaper article about the new dairy research farm (PDF)

Board of Regents meeting, Mar 15, 2012 (PDF)

Board of Regents meeting, Mar 21, 2012 (PDF)

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Update on ISU Dairy Barns

From James T Emmerson, Feb 6, 2016

I tromped around the old Dairy Barns today. They are a shambles. I took lots of photos (as evidence).

The Iowa Barn Magazine in Fall 2003 noted: “At this time, the buildings will remain and appropriate use/historical preservation discussions will be held.”

If they were ever held, the decision was to let the barns deteriorate – maybe in hopes that they would disintegrate – or become an exercise for the periodic Fire Schools held at Iowa State.

The barns today are a pathetic sight.

So much for Bud Ewing’s observation (IBF Fall 2000) that “the barns represent an important component of the architectural heritage of Iowa State and the Midwest. And, finally, some love them simply because they represent an architectural style that reflects a unique combination of beauty, simplicity, magnificence developed by the mind and hand of simple folk.”

At the Animal Science web site, it is written that “the building is currently used for storage and shelter".

I don’t know the exact date this was written, but the AnSci copyright is 1995-2015.

In any case, the building is NOT used for storage and shelter. It is almost totally dilapidated.

The Dairy Farm Pavilion doesn’t look great either – though the main door was locked and windows are too high to see in. This is the oval (octagon?) shaped building there an ISU student Jon Lacina was found dead in 2010. Verdict was suicide or accidental self-inflicted death. (But I venture to wager that most people around Ames think he died at the hands of others – quite possibly a homophobic misadventure.)

Below are 13 pix…. out of about 60 that I took - Tom.

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

ISU barns

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Horse Barns and Dairy Barns at Iowa State University

Below is information from two of the IBF Barns Tours which included ISU Horse Barns and Dairy Barns. Only the Horse Barns remain active on the central campus – and they are a great show when the foals are born.

For more, look at the ISU website, Barns at Iowa State.

From: IBF Highway 30 Barn Tour - 2008.  (See map below)

Horse Barn at Iowa State University - 2008

Iowa State University Horse Barn

Directions: From south of Ames: from Highway 30 at Ames, take Elwood Drive exit north (Elwood Drive is 3 miles west of I-35). Remain on Elwood Drive north for 2.2 miles. Elwood drive crosses South 4th, Lincoln Way, and veers west at the railroad tracks, coming directly to the horse barn parking lot.

The Iowa State University horse barn is of major architectural importance to Iowa and Iowa State. The center wing was designed by Proudfoot, Souers, and Rawson of Des Moines in the mid-1920s. The Proudfoot firm became distinguished for major buildings around Iowa and beyond. The firm designed the noteable courthouse in Wichita, Kansas.

The roof is outfitted with striking metal ventilators and lighting rods. The interior of the building is largely original. The haymow covers the entire building. The two wings, designed to house animals, were built in 1923 by an unknown builder. The building was recently repaired. Many Iowa historians believe this barn should be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But there’s also another ex-barn now converted for classes and offices, as well as a handful of other sites that might interest someone who cares about barns and agricultural history.


An older Tour - From IBF Story County Barn Tour - 2003.  (See map below)

Dairy Barns at Iowa State University - 2003

Iowa State University Dairy Barn

Barn 7 on the map. From Highway 30 at Ames, take Elwood Drive exit north. Approximately 0.2 miles north on Elwood, turn left (west) at the first light to Mortensen Rd. Proceed 0.75 miles on Mortensen road to find the Dairy Barns on the south side of the street. The Iowa State University Dairy Barns are on Mortensen Road, south of the campus.

The dairy farm site was developed at this site in 1908. The original dairy barn, built in 1908, is still in use. A large dairy barn and milking parlor was built during the 1930's and completed in 1937. The magnificent building remains in mostly original condition inside and out. The barn is U-shaped in design and has a classical gambrel roof. The haymow is over the entire structure.

Horse Barn at Iowa State University - 2003

Barn 8 on the map. From south of Ames: from Highway 30 at Ames, take Elwood Drive exit north (Elwood Drive is 3 miles west of I-35). Remain on Elwood Drive north for 2.2 miles. Elwood drive crosses South 4th, Lincoln Way, and veers west at the railroad tracks, coming directly to the horse barn parking lot.

From north of Ames via Highway 69: proceed south through Ames to the intersection with 13th Street. Turn west on 13th St. and proceed 1.3 miles to Stange Road. Turn left (south) onto Stange Road and proceed 2 blocks to the ISU Horse Barns. The parking lot is immediately to the east of the barns. (Alternate: From north of Ames via I-35: exit at 13th Street, proceed west for 3.7 miles to Stange Road, then south two blocks.)

Iowa State University Horse Barn is historically and architecturally important to Iowa and Iowa State University. The clay tile barn with gambrel style roof and turned up eaves was designed in 1923 by Proudfoot, Bird, and Souers of Des Moines, a nationally-recognized firm that designed many of Iowa's important historic buildings. The roof has numerous gabled and shed dormers that accommodate ventilation windows and haymow doors. The interior with box stalls, tie stalls, and group housing stalls is original.

Some of the original wood block floors remain. The haymow covers the entire building. The center wing was built in 1926 to house machinery and is still used for that purpose. The barn is in poor condition, and an effort should be made to restore it.

UPDATE: Repairs were made to the Iowa State University Horse Barn in 2006. The barn now has a new roof, windows, doors, fencing, and repaired cupolas.

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