sealPurdue News

May 9, 1997

Book celebrates Indiana barns

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- "Barns of Indiana," a book written by Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service plant pathologist Don Scott, is a bit of Indiana history and a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

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Scott spent 30 years crisscrossing Indiana back roads, meeting with farmers and analyzing disease problems in fields of corn and soybeans. As he took in the landscape, he always noticed the old barns.

"Some of those old barns had character, even when they were falling down," Scott says. It bothered him to watch these castles of the countryside disappear, one by one.

"I'd see a beautiful old barn one day only to find the next day that it was bulldozed down," Scott says. "It was a part of the history of Indiana that was disappearing, something that my grandchildren would know nothing about."

To save some memories for his grandkids, Scott started taking his camera on his travels. As he crisscrossed the state, he took pictures of barns built between the mid-1800s and the mid-1900s -- 700 or so of them. More than 270 full-color photos ended up in the book, which was sponsored by Beck's Superior Hybrids Inc., of Atlanta, Ind. The Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association is selling the book for about $40 and will use the proceeds to help fund scholarships for agriculture students.

"I did my undergraduate work here. Purdue has given me a job for 30 years. And I believe in the School of Agriculture," Scott says. "So it was a natural for me."

Scott says he feels that he was more than adequately paid just by the process of collecting photos and information: "The most interesting part for me was the people I've met and the history I've learned. I regret I don't have a history on every barn."

Scott gives a detailed history on a handful of barns in the book, and he provides snippets of history in most photo captions. For every barn pictured, he records the location. Photos are organized by region, so that the book can serve as a guide for a driving tour.

Barring a bulldozer, fire, tornadoes or high winds, many of the barns should still be there for you to see. As long as barn owners keep roofs in reasonably good condition, Scott says, most old barns could stand for another 200 years, "although four or five of the barns have disappeared since I took their pictures last year."

Copies of the book will be available in July. To place an order, contact the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association, 1140 AGAD Bldg., Room 1, West Lafayette, Ind. 47907-1140; phone: (765) 494-8593. Or e-mail Donya Lester at

Source: Don Scott, (765) 494-4627; e-mail,
Writer: Rebecca J. Goetz (765) 494-0461, e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

Photo caption

Purdue plant pathologist Don Scott travels camera-in-hand, capturing bits of Indiana history as he photographs old barns. Now his photos are available in a book. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

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