What will happen to the Old Barn in Muscatine?

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MUSCATINE, Iowa – The clock is ticking for the Old Barn in Muscatine. A group called Friends of the Old Barn has 30-days to find a way to save the building from destruction.

The Old Barn is facing its second threat of being torn down.

The uniquely shaped barn built in just 90 days back in the 1920s, sits between the Muscatine Arboretum and homes on Harmony Lane off Houser Street in Muscatine. The Old barn was built to replace other barns that had been struck by lightning and burned down in the area.

It was also used as a “poor farm” which housed people who were indigent, homeless or disabled. People living on the farm worked to cover costs of care and food. It was part of the Muscatine County Legislation known as the early welfare system.

Currently, the Old Barn is used as a farm museum run by volunteers who call themselves Friends of the Old Barn.

Currently, the Old Barn is owned by the County but the group has a 50 year lease on the building. They are about 10 years into the lease.

The Old Barn is at risk of being torn down because it doesn't have water or electricity. A nearby Department of Homeland Security building connects utilities to the barn, but that building will soon be demolished. Once it’s gone, volunteers will need to get water and power to the barn.

The County says it doesn’t want to use taxpayer dollars to fund a new sewer line. On Monday, February 20 2017, the Muscatine Board of Supervisors met with supporters to have an open discussion about the future for the barn.

The board gave supporters 30 days to come up with a plan on how to run and repair utilities.

John Haskins helped save the Old Barn when it was at risk for demolition back in 2005. He and hundreds of community members went to a Muscatine County Board of Supervisors meeting to show their support for the barn. The group was granted the building in 2006 and made repairs with the help of dozens of volunteers.

“Our point has always been don't tear that barn down. It’s history. We want the kids to be able to walk up and say ‘wow what did they do this for?’ and see the lights in the kid's eyes when you tell them about it,” said Haskins.

Now, Haskins is ready to fight for the Old Barn again.

“It’s a project worth saving and I don't mind doing the work to do it,” said Haskins.

Friends of the Old Barn plan to raise money through private donations to help pay for repairs and utility bills. They will present their plans at the next Board of Supervisors Meeting at the end of March 2017.

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