MUSCATINE, Iowa–This summer and fall, Muscatine’s Old Barn, located inside Discovery Park at 3300 Cedar Street, has come back to life, offering several chances for people to come visit and experience its history for themselves. Through October, the Friends of the Old Barn will host two open houses as well as a special evening event, Sunset at the Old Barn.
Built almost 100 years ago in 1926, the Old Barn retains a lot of historical significance. A gothic-style structure unusual among barns in Iowa, Friends of the Old Barn member Andrew Anson considers it a sight to behold. “It’s an architecturally unique barn,” he said, adding he feels the inside looks like a, “wooden cathedral.”
The Old Barn also holds some of the technical and social history of Muscatine County. Built in only 29 days without any modern power tools, the Old Barn had some very advanced features for its time. In particular, it has a Louden pulley, which made it much easier to move hay up and down from its hay loft. “It’s a really unique barn that’s related to Iowa and an Iowa farm boy who revolutionized some parts of farming,” Anson observed.
Originally built and owned by Muscatine County, the Old Barn started out as an endeavor to provide work for people who could not afford to take care of themselves, representing one of the first times the county offered social services. Anson remarked, “It’s the community’s barn and the county’s barn; if your family’s from here, their taxes helped pay for it.”
After completing some important restoration work, including putting a new roof on it and upgrading its electrical system, as well as the innovation of adding an elevator to make it accessible for all people, the Friends of the Old Barn started holding events in it to introduce it to the community. Though their events went on hold at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have started inviting the public to come and visit once again.
On Aug. 20, and Oct. 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Friends of the Old Barn will hold open hoses at the site. People may come and take a tour of the Old Barn at their leisure. Visitors can see the historical displays set up inside and hear stories from the Friends of the Old Barn who will lead the open house that bring its history to life.
Sept. 17, Sunset at the Old Barn welcomes history and music lovers to come together to enjoy an evening of fun. Local musician Bill Anson, with a possible guest artist, will play music throughout the evening, which will last from 5 to 8 p.m. Area food vendors will come out to the celebration as well, providing delicious dinner options for guests.
A series of free events, the Friends of the Old Barn invite anyone wanting to discover this oft overlooked treasure to come out. Because the Friends operate as a non-profit organization, they welcome any freewill donations or annual membership contributions, which cost $25 per year. All money raised goes to keeping up the Old Barn’s insurance as well as to its ongoing maintenance.