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This Old Round Barn


Last fall, Hickory Valley, TN artist Mary McAuslin visited the Peter French Round Barn near Burns, Oregon. She shared her photos of her visit to the barn with the MSHR.  Readers may remember that Mary is famous for painting with coffee. Read our previous article about her “coffee paintings” at:
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the unique circular barn was built by cattle rancher Peter French around 1880. French came to Oregon from California in 1872 as an agent of Dr. Hugh Glenn, who had a large wheat and cattle operation based out of Sacramento. Over the course of the next twenty-five years, French built up the largest cattle empire in Oregon at the time, acquiring well over 100,000 acres of land and tens of thousands of head of cattle and horses before his murder at the hands of a disgruntled settler in 1897.

The French-Glenn Livestock Company built miles of fences and numerous buildings, including three round barns, only one of which remains today. The French Round Barn was located on the French-Glenn Livestock Company’s Barton Lake Ranch.

The French round barn is 100 feet in diameter. The interior of the barn consists of a 60-foot, two-foot thick circular rock wall enclosing a central corral, which was used as a horse stable. The inner corral is surrounded by a 20-foot wide paddock, a covered circular track that was used to exercise horses during the winter months.

The interior of the barn has an umbrella-shaped center truss structure supported by a center post and a ring of interior posts, all made of juniper. To get rafters tall enough, juniper trees had to be cut from the bottom of a deep canyon, the closest of which is 150 miles away in the Blue Mountain Forest. The stone for the corral was hauled from eight miles away by horse-drawn wagons. The lumber for the door, window frames, roof, and outside walls was freighted from both Northern California and an area just north of Burns. The building’s two entrances and fourteen windows are framed with sawn ponderosa pine, while the roof is covered in western red cedar shingles.

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