03 December 2014

Sweitzer Barn on the Van Reed Farm, Warren County

Levi Van Reed House, Warren County
 I had the great fortune of writing a National Register nomination for the Levi Van Reed farm of Warren County, Indiana. Here is a little history of the family and what makes the farm unique. The Van Reed family moved to Pine Township, organized in 1830, when they purchased this property in 1856.  It's unclear if Levi Van Reed constructed the house or other buildings on the property given his former occupation in Mississippi as a carpenter.  Van Reed was elected to the board of Warren County Commissioners in 1867.  He served one three-year term, after which he retired to his farm.  His wife Amelia died in 1873 and Levi died in 1877.  Both are buried in the cemetery that the Barto family, from whom they purchased the farm, established in the 1830s.  The cemetery is located southeast of the farmstead and is known as the Van Reed cemetery due to the number of Van Reed family interments at the cemetery.

Sweitzer barn on the Van Reed farm
After Levi’s death the farming operations were carried out by his sons John and Levi, Jr.  The vast estate was divided among Levi’s living children, each receiving hundreds of acres.  Levi Van Reed, Jr. inherited the family farmstead which included 240 acres on either side of Old U.S. 41.  Levi Van Reed, Jr. was born in 1860, likely at the farmstead.  In 1895, the Levi Van Reed, Jr. family retired from farming and moved to Williamsport where they were involved in other business interests.


Spoon mold on the farm.....just kidding, what a great splash block design!
The barn is a great example of a type of German bank barn known as a Sweitzer barn.  Its origins are decidedly Pennsylvanian, like those of the Van Reed family.  It is the only example of a Sweitzer barn and one of only three bank barns in the county .  The size and quality of construction of the barn relate to the prosperity realized by the Van Reed family’s agricultural pursuits.  The barn has four bays and is considered large for the time period and region in which it was constructed.  German bank barns are divided into two types:  Pennsylvania and Sweitzer.  In a Pennsylvania barn, the peak is centered on the gable while the Sweitzer barn's ridge is off-centered, like that of old salt-box style homes of New England.  These are pretty rare in Indiana, and the Van Reed barn has an impressive charm sitting in the pasture on the edge of a rolling hill.  The house is an impressive example of Greek Revival style architecture, with some Italianate influence, all neatly apportioned to an I-house.  The farm was a great save by Indiana Landmarks.

1 comment:

Kelly H. said...

Beautiful. Would love to live and grow a family in a home like this. Not some cookie cutter HOA neighborhood.