Jack Vandenberg doesn’t like to brag.
The retired farmer said that’s just the way he was raised. But when it comes to his newly renovated barn, he can't help but talk about the local effort that went into its restoration.
The wooden barn sits on his property just south of David City and west of Brainard. Vandenberg estimates the structure to be at least 100 years old. As the structure deteriorated over the years, he and his wife, Jan, were faced with a choice - tear it down or build it up. The two chose the latter and hired several local contractors to tackle the project.
“Last spring the wife and I talked about it. The roof was getting bad, shingles were blowing off. It was either we were going to have to re-roof it or tear it down,” Vandenberg said. “And this is what made us decide to keep it - the structure of it, the workmanship that went into building it.”
All contractors for the project were from the area, as Vandenberg said he believes in hiring locally.
Foral's Landscaping & Construction of Brainard replaced the dirt floor with concrete and T. Novak Construction in Rising City installed new support braces. SRC Builders out of Rising City fixed up the barn’s roof, gutters, windows and added a modern-day garage door. Owner Nate Sanley said the job took all of November 2018 to complete. He said he was happy to help save a building and appreciates its new look.
“A lot of times, if they have an emotional attachment to it, we find that they tend to renovate them,” Sanley said about fixing up old barns. “I think it turned out really well, the color scheme and the barn quilt look very nice. I’m glad he decided to fix it up rather than tearing it down - save a little bit of history.”
The project completely wrapped up in early January. One of the highlights of the renovation for Vandenberg was the addition of a wooden barn quilt crafted by Kay Siffring of Rising City and her business, Barn Bling. He said he admires the three-dimensional design of the piece and how it goes well with the silver barn.
The barn was inherited from Vandenberg's father, who bought the land in 1949. While his father used the barn to house cows and horses, Vandenberg used the structure to store his bales of hay. Today, the barn is used to store the farmer’s lawn mowers, tractor and electrical generators. Vandenberg said he hopes the renovation project inspires others to do the same with their old barns.
If he had the choice, he’d always prefer to rejuvenate an old barn rather than knocking it down.
Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.