A survey of Poplar Heights Farm showed the old threshing barn was the most immediate need of restoration. Leaning badly, the east side nearly gone, parts of the roof flapping in the wind, it seemed that one good storm would surely bring her down.
Built about 1872 by John Walker, note is made of this peg and beam barn in Atkinson’s 1883 History of Cass and Bates County. In it Atkinson writes “on high rolling prairie overlooking the surrounding country, he has a commodious barn...”
Over 100 years old, the threshing barn has served as home to percheron draft horses, the carriage, the milk cow, and kept the hay all winter. It held shucking parties and dances. A tornado carried away the roof one year. Still the barn kept the old baler and tractor dry and working.
The barn was disassembled leaving only the center supports standing. A new concrete foundation replaced a crumbling concrete and field stone foundation from the early 1950’s.
Donations of barn siding from several Summit Township barns and the purchase of massive hand hewn beams and supports from an old barn outside of St. Joseph, Missouri provided wood needed for the restoration.
The tin roof, put on after a storm took the old one, was removed and replaced with cedar shingles to match the original style.
Strict attention to historical accuracy was followed throughout the restoration. New pegs were hand whittled to hold the carefully notched beams together. Where new wood was used, it was stained and distressed to match the old barn.
The missing cupola was restored and a final coat of historic barn red paint with white trim completed the restoration.
Rebuilt historically with peg and beam construction, square nails, the hayloft and stalls rebuilt, the barn stands today as sturdy and proud as it did in the 1870 when it first sheltered draft horses, held grain for next years crops, and watched the neighbors dancing to celebrate a successful harvest.