Stalder Farm

Recognition Award Winner

Location: Nebraska
Year of Award: 2001
Original Use: Hay, Horses
Current Use: Cattle, Hay

Stalder Farm-Salem, NE after rehabilitation.

When siblings Merle Stalder and Mellicent Stalder Adams set out to restore the barn they had inherited from their father, they faced a daunting task.  The sturdy post-and-beam barn was built sometime before the Stalder family purchased the farm in 1893.  "No record exists, but our best guess is that the barn was built in the 1870s or early 1880s," says Merle.  "Buggy horses, draft horses, saddle horses, mules and family milk cows passed through this structure," he adds. 

Years of neglect had taken their toll on the structure.  "I wouldn't let anyone go into it.  I was afraid it would fall on somebody," says farm manager Lonnie Goff. Three of the limestone foundation walls had crumbled, and there was a four-foot sag in the floor.  "It looked like the whole thing would fall into a pile," he adds.  Experienced barn restoration carpenters from Missouri were hired for the $80,000 rehabilitation job.  They crawled under the sagging floor and dug out enough to pour concrete pads.  Over the next month they jacked the barn up little by little until it was level again. Temporary cribs supported the structure while the old limestone foundation was removed and a concrete foundation poured in its place.  To replace rotten timbers, native oak trees from the farm were cut into 10 x 10 beams at a local sawmill, and mortises and tenons carved by hand.  The original cedar shingles were covered with a new steel roof.  Rotted and broken siding was replaced with used lumber from other buildings on the farm.  The barn was painted red, with the battens and trim painted white—the way it appears in a historic family photograph.

The basement level of the barn was converted into a hospital for the farm's 6,000-head custom cattle feedlot.  The upper story, which also has drive-in access, is used to shelter horses used by the six cowboys who ride the cattle pens on horseback everyday.  "There are very few pegged barns left in our area," says Merle.  "The barn fits the site and we could use the space on both levels in our operation. For our community it's a tie back to a vanished past and a useful step into the 21st century."