Barn: Form and Function of an American IconBy Susan Carol Hauser (Voyageur Press, 2017) Buy It Now
Barns exert a nostalgic pull on the imagination. The mere sight of one stimulates the other four senses, conjuring the sun-baked scent and scratchy texture of hay, the fresh taste of warm milk and the creaking of old wooden doors. There might be a swing hanging from a high beam. Or there might be a barn dance inside. Barns even have their own linguistic idioms (were you brought up in one?). Susan Carol Hauser introduces five iconic American barn styles—English, Bank, Prairie, Dutch, and Round—along with more specialized structures such as silos, corn cribs and granaries, livestock stalls, and airy tobacco-drying lofts. She also explores immigrant influences and vernacular decorative details such as hex signs, quilt painting, and sculptural weathervanes, and explains how the color red came to predominate: Cheap and plentiful, iron oxide paint additives helped wood resist rotting, creating the classic “barn red.” Chock full of evocative photos, this last book by the prolific late author and NPR commentator Hauser is a barn-lover’s dream.