Awards of Excellence:
White/Waitzmann Barn

Year(s) Listed:
Location Class:
Built: 1880s | Year Saved:
Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance

This unique timber-frame barn was originally built on the White farm in rural Johnson County, now owned by Ernest Waitzmann.  The barn was dismantled and moved to the Kill Creek Farm, approximately 7 miles away by Darrel Zimmerman and a group of dedicated volunteers.  Kill Creek Farm, owned by Zimmerman, is dedicated to “Maintaining the Rural Heritage of Johnson County” and hosts over 6,000 visitors annually; the barn is the focus of an annual Harvest Festival which features a juried art show.

This story was told in The De Soto Explorer, in an article by Estuardo Garcia, first published May 13, 2010.

After the storm passed, Mandich looked out the window to see trees down, but no real damage to the house. But something was off. She grabbed a flashlight and went outside. “There was something different out there,” she said. “When I looked out … there was no barn.”

The true extent of the damage wasn’t known until the sun came out Thursday morning. That’s when the family fully grasped how much they had lost. As Darrel inspected the land surrounding the barn, he saw trees along the valley southwest of the barn completely uprooted and a clear path of destruction heading northeast of the barn.

He is almost certain it was a tornado that had come through the area, although he didn’t hear any sirens. “I just heard this screaming wind,” he said. “I turned on the TV to check the weather, but I didn’t see anything.” Mandich began calling people who had reserved the barn for a special occasion to inform them what had happened. The barn had been rented each weekend for the next nine weeks for weddings, reunions, and graduation parties.

Throughout the day, a steady stream of people from the community stopped by to survey the damage, check on the family, and see if there was anything they could do. A sign-up sheet was started for people wanting to help in the cleanup and possible restoration of the barn.

Darrel, who was of retirement age, could’ve easily taken the insurance money and staged a nice, comfortable retirement. But the community had given so much to him that he just had to give back.

“There’s been enough support in the past for what we do and enough encouragement that we will move forward and search for a similar structure that we can put back on this foundation,” he said in 2010. “It will never be exactly the same, but I would like to come back with a structure that was similar to it.”

Soon the family determined that a new event barn would serve the community well, and Darrel made sure the timber frame could be constructed in a similar manner to the previous barn. To this day there are no metal screws or nails in the timber framing of the barn—it maintains a wood peg construction with mortise and tenon joints

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