Travel through any town in Vermont and you’ll eventually come across a barn. The barn might be rectangular, round, renovated or dilapidated. Barns, in any shape or size, are an integral part of our working landscape and essential to understanding Vermont’s agricultural roots.
How many barns are in Vermont, and what kind of condition are they in? How can we preserve these important structures? State officials and various organizations are working together to find out through the Vermont Barn Census, a statewide program open for public participation.
Volunteers, including groups and individuals, can explore their communities to locate barns, take a photo and make notes about the barn features, history, use and current condition. Volunteers can participate at their convenience and all information can be submitted online.
“There is perhaps no greater symbol of what is quintessentially Vermont than the barn,” says Devin Coleman, a state architectural historian. “The information from the Vermont Barn Survey will be used to help us understand what’s out there on a statewide level – is there a certain type of barn that is especially rare upon which we should be focusing our preservation efforts? Are there patterns of barn design and construction that reflect historic settlement patterns and different cultural influences?”
To date, an estimated 3,750 barns (or “agricultural structures”) have been identified. Sixty-one out of Vermont’s 251 towns have completed their surveys, and an additional 73 communities have done partial surveys.
Beyond preservation, Coleman says information from the census can be used by people interested in learning about Vermont’s agricultural history or those who are planning road trips and want to see old barns along the way.
Count me in.