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  • Jill Fisher

Helping to Preserve Unique Barn

Members of the Iowa City stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered on a brisk Saturday morning to assist in the restoration effort at the Secrest octagonal barn. The barn was built in 1883 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It joins an elite, and shortening, list of existing round barns in Iowa.

Located a few minutes outside Iowa City, the barn showcases incredible architecture, topped by a Gothic-style roof and a ventilated copula 80 feet in the air. Now more than 135 years old, it is a labor of love to restore and maintain.

This love is contagious. "It's so cool to be able to help restore and help out at a place that's so historic," says Sabrina Longson.

"I love seeing so many people take out of their time to do something good," says Shelby Tobias. Approximately 50 members of the church came to sweep, rake, trim vegetation and pick up debris from a recent roofing project.

The owner, Richard Tyler, believes in the importance of preservation and shares the barn and his vision with various youth groups in the community. Youth from the Iowa City Stake held a barn dance there in 2017 and hope to return again. The event has been hugely popular.

The second story is perfect for gatherings, with a combination of large open spaces for dancing and plenty of tables and chairs. Beams pull the eye upward, and nowhere is the octagonal shape and breathtaking craftsmanship more apparent.

The barn is open to the public and may be booked in advance for more formal events.

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