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Centennial barns to be recognized

Ron Ropp is pictured here on his family’s Dry Grove Township farm. Ron is standing next to a century old barn that now features a handsome and durable Illinois Centennial Barn sign. (photo provided)

BLOOMINGTON – Barn Keepers, a Bloomington-based not-for-profit organization, has embarked on an exciting new project to recognize the owners of 100-year-old barns.

For barns verified to be more than a century old, owners will have the opportunity to receive a 24 x 24-inch durable, outdoor sign to attach to their barns. The reflective, red-and-white Illinois Centennial Barn sign features the State of Illinois outline and the Barn Keepers logo. There is also a nameplate at the bottom to include the barn’s original or current owner. A $50 fee covers the cost of processing the application, the 24 x 24-inch sign, and the sign’s delivery.

More than a dozen McLean County barn owners have already successfully applied for an Illinois Centennial Barn sign. Those who have received signs include David Stephens of Allin Township (309-824-8761) and Dale Sutter (309-663-8282 / 309-826-3438), whose barn is located in Towanda Township. Media are welcome to contact David or Dale for insights into this effort to recognize and preserve the area’s remaining historic barns.

Barns are unique structures that hold countless stories. Sadly, these architectural and historical icons are becoming an increasingly rare sight in the Corn Belt countryside. In 1955, McLean County was home to more than 4,800 barns. Today, there are less than 1,200 left, and a large percentage of those are in poor condition, soon to disappear forever from our rural landscape.

With the current owner’s permission, historical information on their Centennial Barn will be placed in the Barn Keepers Collection, McLean County Museum of History archives, Bloomington.

For more information, contact Ron Ropp at 309-452-8534. Centennial barn applications are available on the Barn Keepers website,

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