Barnyard Bulletins

Coming in 2022: McLean County Centennial Barn Book!

Illinois Centennial Barn logo

The Barn Keepers organization is excited to announce the upcoming publication of a full-color book celebrating many of the county’s 100-plus year-old barns.

This book project will complement the Barn Keepers ongoing Centennial Barn program, which in the past several years has officially recognized nearly 50 barns in the McLean County area.

Do you know anyone with a centennial barn? How cool would it be to showcase such a barn in this professionally designed book celebrating Central Illinois farm heritage?

For more information, contact Barn Keeper board members Bill Kemp at BKemp@mchistory.org or Ron Ropp at rjroppbarn@gmail.com.

In Memoriam: Jim Williams

Barn Keepers board member Jim Williams passed away Sept. 30, 2021, at the age of 87. Jim was well-known, and well-liked by all who knew him. He was a dear friend and colleague of Barn Keepers, and he will be missed.

Born and raised on a farm in the southern Illinois community of Galatia, Jim settled in Bloomington — spending more than 40 years at Country Financial, with much of that time devoted to automobile, fire, and agriculture safety.

He helped establish the International Society for Agriculture Safety and Health (ISASH), and he worked with the University of Illinois Extension on AgrAbility, a project that, among other things, helps farmers with disabilities be able to continue to farm.

Long associated with Barn Keepers, Jim’s ties go all the way back to our beginnings. That was nearly 20 years ago, when he served on the steering committee of the McLean County Barn Group, this organization’s original name. In addition, he served as chairperson of the Barn Group’s 2004 calendar committee.

With his innumerable connections, Jim was expert in securing advertisers for our annual Barn Tour, helping underwrite the cost of printing the booklets, and staging the event.

“He had a special gift for fund raising, and was a strong voice for barn-related issues and programs,” reflected Barn Keepers board member Ron Ropp.

Jim’s wife of 62 years, Madge Reid Williams, survives. Their children, daughter Lori Williams and son Brad Williams, also survive. Memorials can be made to ISASH, AgrAbility, or Eastview Christian Church.

Jim Williams
The Barn Keepers September 9 public meeting at the FS Evergreen Building in Bloomington was a great success! We were thrilled with the nice turnout for our illustrated talk on the Centennial Barn book project. Speakers included board members Ron Ropp and Bill Kemp, and Illinois State University intern Emma Pfeiffer, an undergraduate history major who is assisting Barn Keepers with the book project.
Barn Keepers intern Emma Pffeifer presents a program about the upcoming Centennial Barn book, as board member Ron Ropp looks on.

Illustrated program focused on Centennial Barn book a big hit

The Barn Keepers September 9 public meeting at the FS Evergreen Building in Bloomington was a great success! We were thrilled with the nice turnout for our illustrated talk on the Centennial Barn book project.

Speakers included board members Ron Ropp and Bill Kemp, and Illinois State University intern Emma Pfeiffer, an undergraduate history major who is assisting Barn Keepers with the book project. 

Dave Ashbrook memorial gift supports preserving Davis barn

Following the August 9, 2020, passing of our friend Dave Ashbrook, a substantial memorial gift to Barn Keepers was made in his name. After consulting with family members, it was agreed the Dave Ashbrook Memorial gift will go to the David Davis Mansion Foundation of Bloomington.

The State Historic Site grounds include a circa 1856 stable/barn, and the Ashbrook gift will go to the upkeep and preservation of this historic barn. The Bloomington Preservation Commission recognized the Davis Mansion Foundation’s efforts to preserve this barn with a 2020 Heritage Award.

David Ashbrook
Dave Ashbrook memorial donation will support the barn preservation at David Davis Mansion in Bloomington.
David Davis Historic Site barn, Aug. 10, 2021

Need assistance restoring a barn? This group offers ideas

Here at Barn Keepers, we get asked this vital question all the time.

Unfortunately, we’re a small not-for-profit that emphasizes barn education in McLean County. We simply do not have the technical or financical resources to support a grant program or similar efforts.

And there is precious little assistance when it comes to the government — be it federal, state or local levels. A federal tax credit is available for owners of barns which are on the National Register of Historic Places, but few barns are eligible for such designation. 

That said, there is some help out there. The National Barn Alliance has some suggestions as to what to do and where to go. To visit that website, click here.  

  • Become a member today!
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