IHS Built Environment Typology :


(NOT A Typology)

to Barn Types, Subtypes and Addition Types

to Sources - An Annotated Barn Bibliography


of "Barn:"

  • Lounsbury 1994, An Illustrated Glossary of Southern Architecture & Landscape:
    A type of outbuilding used for a variety of agricultural purposes, such as crop or equipment storage. Less specialized than, for example, tobacco houses, barns served as generic, multi-purpose farm buildings throughout the south from the 17th century onward. They sometimes contained wooded threshing floors as well as shed additions often used as stables. (p22)

  • Noble & Wilhelm 1995, Barns of the Midwest:
    The word barn is defined in Webster's as "a building for storing farm produce and/or stabling livestock." Its origins in England refer more to the first function. The word is derived from a combination of two Anglo-Saxon words, bere, meaning barley (or subsequently any grain), and ern, meaning place of storage. "Cow house," "stable," or some other term is used to signify those structures providing animal shelter, although in the relatively mild climate of Great Britain animals are frequently left in the open the entire year.


    The barn, then, is defined in the American Midwest [including Ohio] by the functions it performs, either originally or currently.

    These functions include animal shelter, crop storage, crop processing, equipment storage, and machinery repair.

    The Barn refers to the place on the farm where any, or several, of these activities regularly takes place. However, if the building is specialzed in function, its designation may carry an adjective, such as "sheep" barn or "horse" barn. Similarly, in some instances a substitute term, such as smoke house, machine shed, or sheep fold, may be used for the specialized-function structure, especially if a larger multipurpose "barn" is also on the farm. (p8-9)

    of "Shed:"

  • Lounsbury, An Illustrated Glossary of Southern Architecture & Landscape:
    A freestanding structure built for storage or used as a covered workspace or shelter for animals or goods. Such buildings were often completely open on one or more sides. (p.327; emphasis added)

    Also: A room or wing of a building... Shed extensions appeared in domestic and agricultural buildings from the early 17th century onward and functioned as service rooms, bedchambers and workspaces. ... (p.327)

    Barn Uses

    (and combinations)
    need to tie in to "Internal Geography"
    Noble & Wilhelm
    1995, Barns of the
    Radford 1907,
    20th Century Practical Barn Plans

    (may be incomplete list)
    Forster & Carter 1941,
    Farm Buildings, 3d Ed.
    Livestock Housing
    & Shelter
  • Cattle: Dairy Cattle, Beef Cattle, Working Cattle
  • Horses
  • Sheep, Swine, Poultry
  • animal shelter
    Dairy Barn
    General Farm Barn
    Horse Barn
    Feed Lots & Cattle Sheds
    Poultry Houses
    Dairy Barn
    Working Stock Barn
    Beef Barn
    Beef Cattle Shelter
    Sheep Barn
    Crop Storage
  • Grain: wheat, oats, corn, soy...
  • Roots: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes...
  • Fruit: Apples, Peaches, Grapes...; Strawberries, Tomatoes...
  • crop storage
    Double Corn Crib
    Grain Building
    Grain & Hay Storage
    Corn Cribs
    Farm Elevators
    Grain Storage
    Fodder Storage
    Hay, Straw, Silage
    (oats=horses, corn=swine)
    (fodder is considered
    under crops?)
    Grain & Hay Storage
    Hay Storage
    Threshing, Winnowing, Grading
    crop processing
    [technologically obsolete by 1941, with
    such activities relegated to machinery?]
    Equipment Storage
  • Tools: Hand Tools
  • Implements: Plows, Cultivators, Harrows
  • [Roling Stock]: Carts, Wagons, Carriages & Buggies
  • Vehicles: Tractors, Combines, Trucks, Spayers
  • equipment storage
    Implement, Tool, Vehicle,
    Wagon Sheds
    Storage & Service Buildings
    Garages & Shops
    Repair & Fabrication
    Shop, Smithy, Service Garage
    machinery repair
    Storage & Service Buildings
    Garages & Shops
    Utilities (?)
  • Water: Springhouse, Tank House, Well Shed, Pump Shed
  • Ice: Ice House
  • -
    Tower Tank House
    Ice House

    This is an attempt to delineate the internal uses of barn, to illustrate why they are shaped the way they are, and why some that look similar are actually different.

    General Notes

    • Bay = Rectangular space for wagon or carriage.
      also = space between bents of large timber frame
      Eventually = Auto bay...larger with time (q.v. McAlister).

    • Stall = Narrow rectangular restraining slot, usually for large livestock (cattle, horse)
      - not small livestock (sheep, hogs) usually kept in groups, not individually.

    • Pen = Squarish living quarters for livestock (usually for large livestock)
      Supposed origin of 16' or 16.5' Pole, Rod, and sometimes Ell

    Small Barn vs. Large Shed

    Difference of use, size, design?
    Or arbitrary attempt to polarize an organic continuum? (e.g. "house" vs. "cottage")
    Tend to have gable, gambrel, hip or otherwise dual-pitched roofs
    Tend to have shed / single-pitch roof
    (cheaper, simpler for small, utilitarian building)
    (or is that too stereotypical?)
    Usually multi-purpose: livestock, crop storage, equipment / tool storage
    (But also specialized, single-use barns: e.g. tobacco, horse...)
    Usually single-purpose - too small for more
    (But also mixed-use sheds...)
    Shortest dimension usually more than 20-30 ft.
    Shortest dimension usually less than 20-30 ft.
  • (John Frasier Hart - discussed barns vs. shed in book - Marshall)
    "reality is always a little wierder than theory"

  • Example: Study of the Barns of the Wilmington Survey


    • Barns only:
    • no sheds, large or small
    • no large corncribs / granaries
    • No chicken coops, cattle lounging sheds, wagon sheds

    • Include all barns inventoried, regardless of the number at each ArcLoc.
    • Include barns converted to different uses (e.g. later wagon shed at Childrenšs Home)
    • English: Assume medium size, flat siting, 3 bays unless stated
      (tho begs the question: barn vs. shed)


    • Few gambrel roofs (only one: Twin Springs)
    • Few 4-bay English
    • Prefer Carriage Barn vs. Carriage House (but also Carriage Shed - especially if attatched appendage)

    [types need revised]

    Barn Types vs. House Types

    stringent vertical differentiation
    looser vertical differentiation
    very flexible horizontal differentiation
    fairly stringent horizontal differentiation
    most barns are rectangular -
    square barns are unusual, and are usually modifications
    of extant types, or are novel types.
    house types vary greatly in shape

    Livestock Barn Thoughts

    "lounging shed"
    only loose sheltering cattle
    "cattle shed"
    loose shelter and feeding
    loose shelter and housing (with stalls)
    cattle barn
    housing (with stalls) and other

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    © INTREPID HISTORICAL SERVICES - Kevin B. Coleman Chillicothe, Ohio, USA
    Adapted 05/01/02 from Word Perfect document "I_Barns" - Version 2.3, 03/06/01