Ebony and Ivory — Horses That Is.

Lemke's Round Barn

8×10 view camera photo of William Lemke’s round barn in Cologne MN. Built in 1927, the barn is 4 years newer than the camera with which I took this photo. There is slight fogging of the film on the right side of the photo.

There is a story here.

Dave Nystuen, previously with the Minnesota Masonic Grand Lodge History museum, gave me a list of round barns in MInnesota which had been compiled by Roy Meyer of Mankato.  I noticed the mention of this barn and decided to find it and photograph it with my antique view camera.  Meyer’s list included GPS coordinates, so I took the list to the Carver County offices and the property people there tried to help me find it.

As we were talking, a woman came up from the end of the room and introduced herself as Emily Lemke, the granddaughter-in-law of the William Lemke who built this barn.  After cries of wonder at the coincidence, I got the owner’s names from the tax rolls and drove to the property.

The current owner was gruff and unimpressed by someone taking his barn’s portrait — at first.  When he saw the big old wooden camera he came out and hung around a bit, telling me some fascinating information.

He put a new roof on this himself, and it took over 300 4×8′ sheets of plywood for the underlayment.  The shingles around the curved roof had to be hand trimmed to fit the curve.  When the barn was built in 1927, William Lemke’s son Earle was 13 years old, and helped build the roof.  Earle had come by and visited with the new owner several times until Earle was in his 90s.

The barn floor is at the height of the ventilator grills above the windows, and the owner, Lauren Schwinghammer, described it as a cathedral inside.  He invited me to come back in the spring and see the indoors.  When I took this photo I was a hundred yards out in the snowy field, and the wind chill was about 5 degrees above zero.  Lauren said he had been rankled by people driving on his lawn and walking into his outbuildings without permission, which explained his gruffness before we got to talk. But he had never, he said, had any one come out in this weather for a photo before.


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