By Jim Elias

The Old Barn and Cottage near Discovery Park in Muscatine might be torn down. Muscatine County citizens are asked to help save The Old Barn by attending a public input meeting on Wednesday, February 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hy-Vee meeting room, 2400 2nd Avenue in Muscatine.

“It’s part of our history. If that building comes down, there will never be another one like it,” John Haskins, President of the Friends of The Old Barn, told the Voice of Muscatine.

The 40 x 60-foot barn was built in 90 days in 1926 at a total cost of $5432. Back in 1926, the Lowden Company designed buildings to the specifications of each particular farmer. So, The Old Barn is a unique, one-of-a-kind structure that can never be replicated. Its Gothic-style roof line means there is no support in the hay loft.

“Its roof is supported by arches which form the roundness of the hay loft. It was made of hardwood with very few knots. And that’s the beauty of this barn,” said Haskins.

Recently, the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors discussed the possibility of demolishing The Old Barn and Cottage. Demolition of the former Department of Human Services Building, 3210 Harmony Lane, is near completion. Once this is done, the cottage, which serves as restroom facilities for The Old Barn, will no longer have access to water, sewer, and electricity.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, February 19, the board agreed to give the Friends of the Old Barn 30 days to develop alternative plans to move forward with preserving The Old Barn.

The Friends of the Old Barn have a 50-year lease for the barn from Muscatine County. The organization restored the Old Barn in 2005. The Old Barn is currently going through the process to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places list. That application process will not be complete until November 2018.

Now volunteers utilize it for interpreting ag history and make it available for weddings, family gatherings, and other community events.

Haskins and members of The Friends of the Old Barn are hoping Muscatine County residents show up to the meeting Wednesday to share ideas. This meeting is to be an open discussion about what citizens think should happen to the Old Barn and how they can use it going forward.

“I believe it’s the citizens’ barn,” said Haskins. “They pay for it with their taxes, their parents paid for it with their taxes, and their grandparents paid for it with their taxes. We want to find out how much the citizens of Muscatine County want to preserve their barn.”