Not only did individual features evolve, but the overall style barns evolved over the past two centuries. And much like a house, many barns even reflected architectural fashions of the time.
The earliest barns seen in the Vermont landscape are English barns, derived from the English settlers, which were characterized by their approximate 30x40 foot dimension, gable roof, and pair of large, hinged doors on the eaves-side wall. These early barns typically did not have windows or ventilators and were sheathed in vertical boards, as seen in the image below. These barns were constructed until the mid-19th century.
In the mid-19th century, the old barns proved too small, and farmers began to extend their English barns. Often several buildings were moved together, as seen in the image on the left, to create one long structure.
Side-hill English barns were constructed in the 1820s and 1830s. The barn was constructed into the side of a hill to allow access to a basement level, as seen in the image below.
Side-Hill English Barn: Image courtesy of Thomas Visser.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, English barns were moved onto new foundations to form ground-level stable barns or they were reconfigured around an area to create a barnyard. Notice the complex of barns in the image below, which are organized around a barnyard.
During the 1830s, the main door was reconfigured to the gable end of the barn, allowing a more efficient use of space on the interior.
Bank barns began to replace older barns in the mid-19th century. Bank barns were built into the side of the bank. The basement was accessible from the lower level, while the main floor could be accessed from the upper level, as seen in the image below. Note the configuration of the door on the gable end. The side-hill English barn has a door on the eaves-end.
By the mid-19th century, barns were often designed with architectural details that reflected popular styles of the era, particularly the Gothic and Greek Revival styles. Gothic Revival barns often had steeply pitched gable roofs or pointed arch windows, while Greek Revival style barns often had Classical details. The image below illustrates an early 19th century barn with a pointed arch gable.
The Dutch gambrel roof became popular in the late 19th century. The gambrel roof, seen in the images below, has a shallow pitch at the peak and a steeper pitch at the eaves.
High-drive bank barns became popular after the mid-19th century. These barns had a higher main drive floor than the traditional bank barn, as seen in the images below. By the late 1880s and 1890s, larger, three or four story high-drive bank barns were constructed.
Monitor roofs were built on barns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for additional light and ventilation. The monitor is a raised portion of the roof with rows of narrow windows on each side, seen in the image below.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, covered high-drive bank barns were constructed. These barns, seen in the images below, had covered high-drive ramps.
Round and Polygonal Dairy Barns, although rare, were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During the early 20th century, ground-level stable barns were constructed. These barns usually had factory-made windows, modern materials, and were larger in size. The roof was usually gambrel, with a triangular extension at the gable peak, as seen in the image on the left. Gothic roofs or rounded roofs, seen in the image on the right, were also popular.