We had ‘coffee talk’ this morning at our friends’ farm. We watched a pair of ducks bathing in front of their barn. It’s a pretty barn.
thats one cool barn..those two large sliding doors when closed together would resemble the style of front doors i’ve seen on some Gothic medieval Cathedrals in my vast travels.. (across the internet,mind you) :/
P.S. I need one of those ducks
Barn doors = cathedral doors. I like that. Goes with the all of life is sacramental theme. But I’m wondering why thou needest a duck.
Well, Chris, the ducks were okay, but your barn picture really got me excited. Let me tell you a story, and in a separate email I will send a barn picture of my own (which maybe you would like to send to Mike, since his comment on Gothic doors relates to my tale. Over the past 58 years I have averaged at least one round trip a year through northwestern Ohio (first on U.S. 20, and later on the Ohio Pike after it was built) to reach my relatives in central Illinois. On one of the early drives through this part of Ohio the painted arches over doors and windows of many of the barns caught my attention. Having grown up on a farm, I enjoy looking at them wherever I drive, but with only two exceptions (one on U.S. 20, but in eastern New York, and one in northern Illinois) I have found them nowhere else until I saw your picture, which I assume was taken in Michigan. Even 50 years ago I observed the arches on barns that looked as if they had not been painted for decades, and I still see them on freshly painted barns–so the custom has endured for a long time. Why so common in this small corner of northwestern Ohio, and why almost nowhere else that I have traveled? I have stopped at some farmsteads to ask why, but the only answer has been a shrug–just the way barns are painted. Last year I finally started emailing people in Ohio who should know, but with only limited success. Yes, they had seen the barns (they even sent me many photos of them), but they had no idea how the practice started, or why. One person speculated that they were somehow inspired by the arches in Gothic cathedrals (are you paying attention, Mike?). Another suggestion was that many of the people in this particular part of Ohio came from Alsace-Lorraine (the area that has switched back and forth between France and Germany). Last fall I had a chance to drive through that area, and you can bet my head was swiveling to look at the barns–but it was a short trip and a hurried one, and I made no sightings. So Chris, did the man you visited have an ancestor from Alsace-Lorraine?
..interesting story elmer,this might be a fun thing to research.
I hear they make great guard ‘dogs Chris..second only to peacocks
They are not descendants of the original owners/builders of the barn, Elmer. So we are not sure if there was an ancestor from Alsace-Lorraine. It’s an intriguing thought where these artistic details come from. I’ve looked through all the other barn pictures on As the Deer, which curiously begin the very first day the blog began, October 1, 2008, but I see no other details like the one on this barn. I will keep a lookout for this kind of arch on the door.
Thanks for your research, Chris. I am grateful to have someone help me look. Now we know that at least three barns with painted arches are located outside of northwestern Ohio (this one, one in northern Illinois, and one in eastern NY). One point I didn’t mention before is that in addition to the full painted arches, a few Ohio barns had small arcs (like left and right parentheses with their tops leaning toward each other) as if the painter was making a nod to the tradition without going the whole way. This, added to the fact that I saw the arches 50 years ago on barns with peeling paint makes me think the practice has a long history.
With the barn doors closed the arches look curiously like a depiction of the ten commandments without the words.
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