The Smith Barn

SmithBarn_1
Visiting family history (photo courtesy Anne Kepner)

Visiting family history (photo courtesy Anne Kepner)

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The Smith Barn in 1970

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Rehabilitation Drawing

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Statistics

  • Built: 1896
  • Address: 3120 Caves Highway, Cave Junction
  • Builder: Unknown
  • Designation: Undesignated

News and Updates

Summer 2015

The Oregon Department of Transportation has thus far not acted to stabilize or rehabilitate the structure, though discussions about the barn’s future are ongoing

November 5, 2015

Listed as a Most Endangered Place by Restore Oregon

May 24, 2013

Old Barn May Have a Future

History

The Smith Barn was built for Jenette and Martin Powers in 1896 on land that they had owned and farmed since 1864. Local pioneers Ora and Agnes Smith purchased the farm and recently-built barn in 1902. The Smith family owned and operated the land until 1991 at which point the property was donated to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The barn was constructed of hand-hewn 12″ x 12″ Douglas fir timbers. A rare relic in Southern Oregon today, the timber frame was joined using mortise and tenon joints and wooden pegs. The roof structure employed round Douglas fir poles 4-5″ in diameter. During the early 1900s, bundled grain was brought to the barn and thrashed using steam powered machines. The residual straw was loosely stacked in the barn.

Why it’s Endangered

In 1991 ODOT accepted, from the Smith family, a donation of the 16 acres the Smith Straw Barn sits on with a commitment to future development. The plan was to create a wayside to highlight history of the Smith family settlement, plus the early local economy of farming, logging and mining. However, those well-intended plans never came to fruition and the barn has been in a state of demolition by neglect ever since. Today, the overall condition is poor, with one corner and ridge suffering major damage due to a large fallen oak limb. There are many areas with visible rot and the roof is near failure.

Near-term Goals

The barn is in immediate need of stabilization if it is to survive long enough for reuse alternatives to be explored. In collaboration with ODOT, removal of debris and added structural support should be expected in the months ahead. A National Register nomination, condition assessment, and preservation plan will be needed to document and plan for the future of the barn. Community conversations with the Oregon Caves Chateau, local wineries, local and state leaders, and nearby residents will be necessary to identify viable reuse alternatives. The property’s exclusive farm use zoning limits use opportunities for the site, but its location on the well-traveled Oregon Caves Highway makes it a possible tourist opportunity.

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