Sears & Roebuck barns may still dot rural landscape
Everyone over age 60 remembers the Sears & Roebuck catalogs that offered anything one could possibly want from clothing to books, from farm equipment to furniture and much more. The last Sears Catalog was spring/summer 1993. Fewer remember that you could also order a barn from the Sears & Roebuck, “The Book of Barns” catalog. (One could also order a house from a Sears catalog, but that’s a topic for later).
I am looking at a 1919 Sears barn catalog that offers several types of barns, all pre-cut and ready to assemble. Everything was included in the package, rafters, posts, door frames, windows, siding, truss lumber, studs, roofing shingles. Even already ready-made barn doors. All the pieces arrived at your nearest rail depot, ready for assembly, with instructions on how to do it.
A popular model, the “Country Gentlemen Modern Barn No. 1007,” was offered in sizes from 32’ wide x 32’ long ($1,049) to 36’ wide x 104’ long ($2,836). The catalog copy read: “For the dairyman, for the horseman, or for mixed farming, this building is equally useful.”
The “Pride of the Farmstead, Modern Dairy Barn No. 2054,” was available from 30’wide by 32’ long ($1,195.00) to 36’ wide x 146’ long ($4,592). “No dark corners in this dairy barn. Many long windows provide an abundance of light. Right here the first requirement of sanitation in a dairy barn has been carefully considered. The windows are equipped with sanitation shields; a quick chance of air may be made by lifting windows back into these shields. No direct draft touches your stock.”
You could also order a milk house, chicken house, corn crib and hog house from the barn catalog. Many of these buildings can still be found on farms around the country.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: In its day, Sears & Roebuck offered about all that a farmer needed in its catalogs.
Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to www.jerryapps.com.