Wisconsin’s Culture - Chase Barn

One of the last fieldstone barns in the country

August 24, 2011

Chase, Wisconsin is about 20 miles northwest of Green Bay in Oconto County. What has come to be known as the Chase Stone Barn was built in 1903 and is on the State and National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the last surviving all-fieldstone barns in the country. 

When I visited in 2011, the town was in the process of raising funds to help restore the barn and develop the park. The stones were gathered from local farm fields over a century ago, however their origin was Canada.  Massive glaciers pushed and tumbled the stone to the Wisconsin region during three known ice ages over the past 70,000 years. Some of the stones are over 2 billion years old!

Kristin Kolkowski was on the Stone Barn Committee for the Town of Chase, Pulaski, Oconto County. Way back in February 2011 she brought the Chase Stone Barn to my attention and invited me to several events. I finally got out there on August 18, 2011 and it was worth the ride. It is located on CH S near the junction with Schwartz Road in southern Oconto.

There is a very nice old photo album of the barn and its near environs on line, Chase Barn History, presented by the Town of Chase. I borrowed this photo from that gallery. It was on the Krause family property and is also known as the Daniel E. Krause farm. The barn measures 100' long by 60' wide and the walls are two feet thick. It was built by stonemason William Mensenkamp.

The town was raising money to help restore the barn and make it a “rustic agricultural museum.”

The barn is surrounded by corn fields, in August pushing toward the sky, a wonderful setting. The large arch doors at each end made it easier for the hay wagons it get in and out. As of 2010, it is only one of two remaining barns in Wisconsin to be constructed from fieldstone.

This particular barn is known for its thorough stonework and its massive arch entrances at either end. This is a closeup of the stonework. It is remarkable. But one other point is important as well. Generally fieldstone is close to the surface. Usually, however, farmers had to remove them stone by stone, a considerable effort. They had to remove them or they would ruin their machinery. Back in the day, whole families would have to go out and tackle the job.  Today there is a tractor attachment called a rock picker that makes the job a lot easier.

I opened one of the sliding doors and let myself in. I was alone and am a city boy, so I am going to step out on a limb a bit, though I have done some research, and try to explain the process that went on inside.

You can see the large arched door at the end of the building. The hay wagons came in one door full and left through the other door empty. This wall supported a loft. A pulley system was used to take the hay off the wagons and lift it into the loft.

This is the other side of this wall, I call it the stable, where the Cattle congregated.

ou can see the log joists holding up the loft, using the walls on each side as the bearing walls. Then hay would be dropped over the edge of the loft to the barn floor where it was picked up and pitched through wooden feed doors to the cows in the stable on the other side.

Same area, but This gives you a better look at the doors that open and close for feeding time.

Every time I enter an old structure, I am fascinated by how the ceilings were built. Here you see whole logs used as the floor joists. And you can see how they cut the lumber into pieces for the floor.

I commend some fine art photography taken of this barn by Joann M. Rngelstetter. She also has some nice text to go with it.