A round barn? Yes! They really exist! This style became popular in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries because people thought that tornadoes would bounce off the walls and go around the structure, rather than going through it.
*All photos were taken at the Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma.
The town of Arcadia was organized in 1902 by William Odor, Isaac Dawson, and B.F. Newkirk. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad had laid tracks south of the barn on Odor’s land.
By 1914, Oklahoma County built a crude dirt road between the barn and the railroad tracks. This road became known as State Highway 7. By 1926, the road was still unpaved, but it became a part of a brand new larger national highway system. Do you know what highway it was? It became know as U.S. Highway 66, better known as Route 66. The Mother Road brought in a whole new group of people and the Round Barn quickly became a landmark to see! Finally, in 1929, the highway was paved! The road was 18 feet wide with a 5-inch concrete base and 2-inch asphalt overlay.
Round Barn History
The Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma was built by William Harrison Odor. He began the project in 1898 and it took awhile to complete. The foundation was built out of local red Permian rock. The walls and rafters were constructed out of native burr oak boards which were cut while they were green. The boards were soaked in the river to make them pliable so they could be shaped into the iconic curves. The building process took several months.
The workers convinced Odor to let them pay the difference in materials to convert the top of the barn into a loft for dances and social gatherings. The acoustics were amazing. Odor had one condition – only “good music” could be played in his barn.
Odor had to climb to the apex of the barn’s roof to tie the rafters together, himself – because nobody else was brave enough to do it. That point was 43 feet off the ground! It’s a good thing that he wasn’t afraid of heights!
The Barn Switches Hands
By April 1946, Frank and Katie Vrana owned the Round Barn. They used it as a workplace and place to store hay for the next 30 years. They cut a large door into the side of the structure and it severely weakened the building. So much so that the barn began to lean due to the high winds… Oklaaaaaaaahommmmmaaa where the winds come sweeping down the plains!
Saving the Barn
The Round Barn in Arcadia was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. By this time the barn was in pretty poor shape. The entire thing had decayed and was falling apart. It had also been the target of arsonists and vandals.
The Round Barn’s condition continued worsening over the next decade. Then in the late 1980s a group of people sought to restore the Round Barn. Beverly White, along with Luke and Ana Robison formed the Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society.
The descendants of Frank Vrana donated the barn to the Arcadia Historical Society on May 27, 1988. Luke Robison was a retired builder and carpenter and set to work restoring the Round Barn to its former glory. On June 29, 1988 according to an eyewitness – the Round Barn’s roof “just kind of sighed and fell in, like a souffle” due to the years of rot and decay. This didn’t stop the restoration team though!
Official restoration work began in 1989 performed by an army of volunteers who liked to call themselves the “Over-the-Hill Gang.” Many of the volunteers were retirees! Like William Odor before him, Luke Robison was the man to tie the rafters together at the top of the new roof.
The Round Barn was completely restored and dedicated on April 4, 1992.
Then in November 1993, the National Trust for Historic Preservation gave the volunteers an award recognizing their craftsmanship and work in preservation.
By 2005, the Round Barn was in need of more repairs. A new army of volunteers gathered their tools and got to work. They received funding from the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.
The Round Barn Today
Today, the barn is in great condition as you can see here. It still remains an iconic stop on Route 66 and many tourists visit every year. The Bottom of the Round Barn houses a museum and gift shop for tourists. There are several pictures, old maps, farming equipment, and so much more! They even have a tiny replica of the barn – it’s so cute!
Personally, my favorite part of the museum is all of the old photographs of Odor, his family, and Arcadia. The maps are also super cool!
You can go inside the top of the barn too! Today, the barn hosts music gatherings, proms, and weddings in the loft. The floor is beautiful and it is so fun to peak out the windows and watch the cars drive by on Route 66! Make sure to stand on the platform in the middle of the room too!
Old Farming Equipment
Once you’re done looking around inside, make sure to head back outside and go check out all of the old farming equipment behind the barn. There are all kinds of pieces of equipment!
The Round Barn is open to visitors almost year round. They host public and private events. I hope you’ll go check out this awesome place! Their address and phone number are below. I will also link their website at the end of this article!
Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂
107 E Highway 66
Arcadia, OK 73007
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