The Bank Barn was build as a large storage barn for hay and grain with the lower level being the home to horses and livestock. The huge doors, when opened, enabled the farmer to take advantage of the wind power to help thresh grain, the area between the doors was the “threshing floors”. The large doors also allowed the farmer to pull their hay wagons into the barn for unloading.
Each farmer chose to express himself architecturally by designing an individual style of cupola. Cupolas ventilated the immense heat generated by stored hay that was curing in the lofts and would repel lighting. It also allowed birds into the barn to help control the rodents and insect population. And it provided a high mount for one of the farm’s most important tools, the weathervane.
Dennis Barlow recalls when growing up on the northwest side of the large bank barn there was a wood silo with metal rings. He recalls that Clayte, the handyman, decided to add sides to a small barn that was on the property. Clayte removed boards from the unused silo and put them on the additions he was building. Eventually, in the 1960's, he removed too many boards and a loud crash was heard as the silo tumbled down. Today, the foundation ring of brick is all the remains of the wooden silo.
When workers began excavating the land bank to start repairs to the barn’s north foundation wall, they were surprised to discover a huge water cistern underneath the bank, which caused work on the wall to stop. After visits to the site, numerous local historians, barn and mason restoration experts and community archeologists, agree that the cistern is unique for its large size, construction and exceptional condition.
John Burnell, the historical mason, said that the bricks are a dark purple color indicating hard fired brick cistern (circa 1890’s), built against the north wall of the foundation, is a long, barrel-vault style water tank constructed of red brick and mortar and is coated on the inside and outside with several layers of a water-proof plaster. It measurers approximately 19 feet (length) x 7 feet (height) x 6 feet (width), and has a circular crock on top, which served to collect water from the barn’s rain gutters.
Because of its historic significance, there are plans to keep a portion of the cistern exposed for visitors to see. A second cistern was found near the wagon shed.