Shafer Round Barn, Sioux Falls South Dakota

Date added: June 09, 2023 Categories: South Dakota Barn Round Barn
Barn looking north (1995)

This structure is an example of the hollow tile barns found in southeastern South Dakota built during the final stage of round/polygonal barn construction. The final stage is characterized by pre-designed barns which could be ordered from the manufacturer via catalogs or advertisements in agricultural publications. These barns were the final and outstanding achievement of research and promotion within the agricultural community from the late 19th and into the early 20th centuries. Manufacturers promoted these barns as easy and affordable to build with none of the problems that plagued earlier round barns. These barns had self-supporting roofs with clear span, easily filled hay lofts; sufficient light and ventilation; interior silos and convenient and efficient interior arrangements. Some farmers ordered the barns and built the structure themselves while others contracted with a construction company associated with a particular manufacturer. Most of the hollow tile property type barns of southeastern South Dakota appear to have been built by a traveling crew that represented the Johnston Brothers Clay Works of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The silo for the Shafer Round Barn was built in 1919 with the barn itself being completed a year later. The barn was originally built as a cattle feeding facility owned by brothers-in-law Ray Stevens and Art Winters. Unfortunately, during the winter months moisture from the cattle that collected as ice on the tile walls would eventually melt and make the bedding wet. The cattle feeding operation was eventually discontinued because of this problem and Shafer family members bought the barn in 1943. The barn housed a dairy operation from the 1950s to the 1970s. The two one-story, concrete block additions were built during this era to provide more milking space and a milking parlor. The current owners use the barn for 4H lambs and sheep.

The inscription on a tile in the southeast wall of the barn "GEORGE IRVINE CLAY WORKS WORK JOHNSTON" and the current owners' report that the building contractor "came from Iowa", indicate the Shafer Round Barn was probably built by a Johnston Brothers Clay Works crew using hollow clay tile supplied by another company called George Irvine Clayworks. Attempts to locate a George Irvine Clayworks active in the late 1910s or early 1920s in either South Dakota or Iowa have, so far, been unsuccessful.

Barn Description

Located on the western edge of the Sioux Falls city limits at the rear of the Shafer farmyard, the Shafer Round Barn is a true round hollow clay tile two-story building with a matching tile silo that protrudes through the self-supporting two-pitch gambrel roof. The 1919 silo and 1920 barn were originally built for cattle feeding but were converted to a dairy barn. The barn rests on a poured concrete foundation and has an asphalt shingle roof. A one-story, gable roof concrete block addition was added on the northeast side of the barn in 1951 to increase milking capacity. A one-story, gable roof concrete block milking parlor was added off the southwest side of the barn in 1958.

The barn has 13 four-pane fixed sash windows spaced at regular intervals between the barn's four doors. Three vertical board doors with separate upper and lower leaves are on the north, east and west sides. A paneled double swinging door is located on the south side. One tile on the southeastern face of the barn is inscribed "GEORGE IRVINE CLAY WORKS WORK JOHNSTON". Two square skylights are located in the upper pitch of the gambrel roof on the southern side of the roof. The silo, extending approximately 12 feet above the gambrel roof, is capped by a domed roof.

Inside, the bottom level has a concrete floor and is open except for the center-round hollow clay tile silo. The silo has a built-in wooden ladder on the southern side and metal cables wrapped around it at regular intervals for additional support. The hay loft is open and retains the metal circular hay carrier track just above the gambrel pitch. The loft floor is open above the large southern door to allow for stocking the loft.

Physical features of the barn that identify it as an example of the final period southeastern South Dakota hollow clay tile round barn property type are its true round form, hollow clay tile walls and matching silo, self-supporting roof, simple rectangular lintels over the doors and windows and the placement and number of doors. The inscription in the individual tile is unique within the property type.

Shafer Round Barn, Sioux Falls South Dakota Barn looking east (1995)
Barn looking east (1995)

Shafer Round Barn, Sioux Falls South Dakota Barn looking northeast (1995)
Barn looking northeast (1995)

Shafer Round Barn, Sioux Falls South Dakota Barn looking northeast (1995)
Barn looking northeast (1995)

Shafer Round Barn, Sioux Falls South Dakota Barn looking north (1995)
Barn looking north (1995)

Shafer Round Barn, Sioux Falls South Dakota Tile detail looking northwest (1995)
Tile detail looking northwest (1995)

Shafer Round Barn, Sioux Falls South Dakota Barn interior looking east (1995)
Barn interior looking east (1995)