Just off the 7½-mile stretch of State Road 235 in Jackson County sit two round barns.
The Stuckwish Round Barn sits on the right along County Road 460W in Driftwood Township, and the Hall Round Barn sits back off County Road 150S in Carr Township.
Their circular design isn’t the only thing that makes them unique. There used to be more than 225 round barns in Indiana, but only 20 — including the two in Jackson County — are still standing in southern Indiana.
“When there’s only 20 left and we’ve got two of them right here, that’s pretty neat,” said Brian Wolka, who lives across the road from the Stuckwish barn.
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“Just the uniqueness of the barn, it kind of stood out in the community,” he said. “If you were driving up 235, you could see it. Going by here, it was always well maintained. They always kept it nice and painted. It’s just a beautiful thing to have in your backyard.”
Indiana’s round barns were built between 1890 and 1930, and it had the most of any state. When the Great Depression hit, that affected the round barn building boom.
Jackson County used to be home to four round barns.
The Burcham Round Barn was the oldest, built in 1909 and stood along State Road 135 near the Washington County line until the roof collapsed in 2009. Most of the lumber was used in the construction of a barn near Brownstown.
The Hall Round Barn was built in 1910 and cost about $1,500 to construct. It is the largest at 72 feet in diameter.
The Stuckwish barn used to have a twin barn just a few hundred yards away, but it was destroyed by fire in 1983. Both were built in 1910-1911. The one still standing is 60 feet in diameter and cost $1,500 to build.
Wolka said he grew up in a house just down the road from the Stuckwish barn and often rode his bicycle past it and the twin barn.
“When we moved to a brick home here, Mom wanted a kitchen that faced this way so you get up in the morning and you’d see two perfect round barns out there,” he said. “It was just a unique, picturesque view out of our kitchen window.”
The barns were used to store crops and hay and to feed and milk cattle. At one point, one was used for hogs and had a fence built around it.
“Back then (when they were built), they thought they could get more square footage for the amount of lumber that it would take because you didn’t have any wasted space in the corners,” Wolka said.
The Stuckwish barn has a grain storage bin inside.
“Their feeding trough was in a circle, and if you had dairy, you could fit more cattle in a circle because you didn’t have the wasted corner space,” Wolka said. “Plus, if they were milking by hand, which they did back then, instead of the cattle standing like this, their rear end was out a little farther, and they had more space to sit their stool down and milk the cow.”
The barn also has a pulley system that goes around the barn in a circle that lifts the rectangular bales of hay up into storage. The barn was repainted and reroofed in 2009.
Don Stuckwish, Wolka’s mother’s first cousin, owned the Stuckwish barn until he died in 2008. Two of his nieces — one living in Cleveland, Ohio, and the other in Florida — now own it.
Roger Wischmeier, who lives near the Sauers area, is the farm manager. Wolka’s cousin bought part of the farmland on which Wolka and his wife, Chris, live.
They built a new home there a few years ago and enjoy greeting people who stop by to check out the barn.
“If (Chris) sees somebody stop down there, she’ll just walk down there and ask where they are from,” Brian Wolka said. “A lot of times, they’ll ask, ‘Can we take pictures?’ Sometimes, they’ll ask if they can see the inside, and she loves to show them the inside.”
Visitors have included a van full of Amish people from northern Indiana and a group of photographers from Louisville, Kentucky.
“We’ve talked to a lot of different people from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana — basically just the states around here,” Brian Wolka said.
Many people who visit the nearby Medora Covered Bridge, which is the longest historic covered bridge in the United States and gets visitors from all over the world, are directed to check out the Stuckwish barn.
The Stuckwish and Hall barns also have been rest stops on the annual Round Barn Bike Ride, conducted in the summer by the Brownstown Exchange Club.
Jackson County used to be home to four round barns, but only two still stand.
The Stuckwish Round Barn is on County Road 460W in Driftwood Township. The Hall Round Barn is along County Road 150S in Carr Township.
The Stuckwish Round Barn had a twin barn a few hundred yards away that was destroyed by fire in 1983. The Burcham Round Barn sat along State Road 135 in Driftwood Township until the roof collapsed in 2009 and the barn was dismantled.