Farm Heritage Award Winner
Year of Award: 1999
Original Use: Cattle
Current Use: Cattle, Hay
In a central Illinois farm field stands an exceptional barn. Part of what makes it unusual is the shape: it is round. A design originally promoted as wind resistant and efficient for livestock feeding and waste removal. But round barns always remained an oddity and because they didn't adapt well to technology introduced after World War I, few were built after 1920.
But what also makes the round barn outside Pontiac, Illinois stand out is its current condition. Owner Bill Nolan had known about it since college, and bought it in 1987 to house cattle that are part of his breeding business. While the structure was generally sound, it still needed significant work. Nolan replaced badly damaged windows and doors with lumber milled to match the original, used historically appropriate painting techniques, and restored the original cedar-shingled roof.
Because the barn was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, he was able to take advantage of a 20% federal tax credit for preservation work. Today, Nolan's barn is a recognized landmark in his area and has served his business well. Its rehabilitation shows again that the continued use of historic properties is one of the most effective forms of preservation.