It is a treasure and the pride of John and Marlene Penne. Situated on a hill on their scenic farm outside of Davenport, Iowa sits a rare round barn built by architect Benton Steele.
Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films joined KWQC's Fran Riley at the site to talk about their new documentary The Barn Raisers and the Nebergall Round Barn, which will be highlighted in the film. Fran Riley Features will broadcast the segment on Tuesday, July 28 at 4:00 p.m. on KWQC-TV6.
Fran spent the warm morning hours exploring the rare barn and interviewing its owner, John Penne, who purchased the farm in 1992. The barn is on the National Register of Historic Places and Penne has made its preservation his passion. His biggest restoration work was replacing the massive circular roof with wooden shingles.
Architect Benton Steele built his first barns in the dairy districts of Indiana and Wisconsin before moving to Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
Steele was hired by Charles W. Nebergall of Davenport, Iowa to design and construct a round barn on his Knoll Crest Farm in 1914. Built as a true round barn, the structure measures 56 feet around.
The barn served as a dairy barn for a number of years and also housed the farm's work horses.
The bottom half of the barn is constructed in clay tile and features square windows. Red vertical board-and-batten siding covers the upper half of the barn that features rectangular windows.
A driveway divides the interior circular arrangement between the horse stalls and the cattle stanchions, which ringed the outer perimeter of the main level. Grain bins and feedways are located between the animals and the center drive. Separate hay chutes serviced the horse and cattle sides of the barn. In that way the horse hay and the cattle hay could be efficiently stored and the animals fed.
A cupola rests on top of a 2-pitch conical roof. The barn's hay-forks and manure track system remain in working condition.
The Nebergall Round Barn is the only known example of a round barn from his work left in Iowa.
The Barn Raisers, a companion film to the Rundles’ Emmy® nominated historical documentary Country School: One Room – One Nation, tells the story of barns in the Upper Midwest by examining them through the lens of architecture. The film will explore what barn styles, building methods and materials tell us about the people who built them, the life they lived and the role these “country cathedrals” played in the settling and building of the Nation.
Fourth Wall Films is an award-winning independent film and video production company formerly located in Los Angeles, and now based in Moline, Illinois. To view a catalog of Fourth Wall Films' award-winning films, click HERE.
The Barn Raisers has been awarded grants from Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, Humanities Iowa, the Kansas Humanities Council, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, Ohio Humanities, the Michigan Barn Preservation Network, the National Barn Alliance and Russ & Lu Ann Mawby.