Herald JournalHerald Journal, Nov. 24, 2003

Another page of history is added to vintage HL barn

By Paul Maravelas

Fair fall weather helped contractor Mike Remer of Cokato install a new roof on a large vintage barn at the northwest corner of Howard Lake.

"It's the hardest job I've ever done" said one of the crew, Robert Jones, who has been roofing for three years. Bats, beetles, and flies were uncovered on the roof, and the insects made the footholds slippery, Jones said.

The roof is also steeply pitched, and time has solidified the barn's rafters, making it very difficult to drive nails into them.

The new roof appears to be the fourth one installed on the barn, Remer said.

Before it was installed, a layer of cedar shingles and a layer of asphalt shingles were removed from the main roof, and two layers of cedar shingles were taken off of the cupola.

The project took two weeks to complete, and included painting the cupola.

In addition to Remer and Jones, the crew included Jackie Decker and Mert Anderson.

The timber-framed barn houses a donkey and three goats, and is owned by Dr. Elmer Theisse. The asphalt shingles were installed about 20 years ago, Theisse said.

The barn was built about 1910, according to Ed Reinmuth, who grew up on the farm and now lives nearby. Reinmuth's grandparents, George and Barbara Uecker Reinmuth, had the barn built to house their dairy cattle and hay.

Ed Reinmuth said his grandmother told him the barn was built from home-grown oak and elm.

The lumber was sawed during the winter in a pasture northeast of the barn by a steam-powered saw that used water from a nearby pond.

The barn took a summer to build, and the Reinmuth family provided three meals a day for the workers, some of whom slept in a shed on the farm. Neighbors came to help raise the oak frame.

After the barn was completed, a water tank in the hayloft stored water from a windmill, supplying water to the house and farm.

Reinmuth recalls hay "piled almost to the roof" inside the barn; two horses pulled the hay up a ramp directly into the loft, then were unhitched and led outside to work lines that lifted the hay off of the wagon.

In Ed Reinmuth's time, the family raised cattle, horses, hogs, and chickens, milking about 30 cows by hand. They put their last hay up in about 1948, after which they rented out most of the land.

Reinmuth remembers 1938 as the year when both electricity and a milking machine came to the farm.

The milking machine was powered by a gas engine for a short time, until electricity was available.

The house was the first building to be wired on the farm, and was ready before the supply lines were complete.

Reinmuth recollects coming home from school each day and throwing light switches to see if the house had yet been connected.

In about 1942, the barn was wired, re-roofed, and painted white.

The barn had been red until then. Reinmuth remembers the painter, Dewey Mathews, who did the entire painting job from a ladder, perching it on a hay rack to reach the peak. Heights didn't bother Mathews, who had worked as a wing walker in a circus, Reinmuth said.

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