Save the Davidson Barn

...Once and Future Community Center

Photo 1:     Steve Colburn, president of Barnstorming, right, and Melwyn Hallam, treasurer, discuss their intentions to save the Caleb Davidson barn northwest of Eureka. The barn is one of the oldest structures in Woodford County. Colburn and Hallam stand in the 1850 addition to the original 1838-1839 barn.

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Presented here is the text and four photographs taken from the July 22, 2014 Pantagraph article, "Saving history", by Lenore Sobota. Photos by Lori-Ann Cook-Neisler. Photos and text used here by permission.

Saving history

Group eyes moving 1830a-era barn

Lenore Sobota

EUREKA - A group seeking to save one of the oldest structures in Woodford County is hoping to find a new home for a barn in which Abraham Lincoln once tied up his horse. The Caleb Davidson barn northwest of Eureka was built about 175 years ago.

"This one was built by one of the very early settlers in Woodford County," said Steve Colburn, president of the group that calls itself Barnstorming. "It predates just about any other structure."

Although the outside of the barn and its roof have deteriorated badly, "the hand-hewn beams that constitute the superstructure of the barn remain solid," Eureka College history professor Junius Rodriguez wrote in an article posted on the group's website.

"The current challenge for us is to find a real nice site around the Eureka area," Colburn said.

He said they have two or three sites in mind, but don't want to disclose them before a deal can be made, which he hopes to do so within a few months.

Karen Fyke, Barnstorming's secretary, said, "If we don't manage to get this thing moving," the owner would "like to tear it down and sell the wood."

The story of the barn goes beyond Lincoln's visit while working on a case for the Davidsons. The barn's first non-farm use was as a meeting place for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Colburn said. Later it also became a community meeting place.

"That's what we want to do - bring it back as a community center," Colburn said.

Among other things, plans call for the barn to become a permanent home for the Woodford County Historical Society.

Fyke, who is also the historical society's secretary said she initially saw the project as a way to help the Historical Society.

Then she visited the barn.

"Now I'm a believer," Fyke said. "You can't believe it until you see it in person."

About three dozen people did just that at an open house last month. Fyke thinks more tours are needed so people can see the building she describes as "awe-inspiring."

Colburn said a 2006 estimate put the project's cost of the project at $800,000.

"I'm sure it will be more now,"Colburn said. "We're just calling it a million-dollar project."

The cost includes not only dismantling and moving the barn but also installing a new exterior and making usable space within the structure, he said.

Barnstorming started as an interest group at the Eureka Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in part because of the barn's links to the early days of the church, Colburn explained. But it became clear this endeavor was more than a church project, he said.

Rodriguez wrote, "This historic site that is an invaluable part of our cultural legacy continues to remind us of our own faith journey and the power of transformation."

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Barnstorming, Inc.