Flags Over Wisconsin
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The Barns


The Olson Barn, Deerfield, WI

My First Barn

Einar Olson’s infamous tobacco barn that lived only feet away from the original Wis. Routes 12 & 18 halfway between Madison and Cambridge. This barn was noted as one of the reasons for the reconstruction and moving of the road, as it stood victim of countless car accidents from bad weather conditions. I can still smell the tobacco when I cut into the siding of this 100+ year old barn and the framework of most of my wall hangings are the tobacco laths used to dry the crop before it was bailed.

The Kippley Barn, Waunakee, WI

This barn once stood just East of Waunakee on highway 19 and served as one of the Kippley family’s dairy barns until its sale to the County in the Mid 1980’s. Retired in 2015 as part of a Dane County Public Works Project where 100% of the barn was recycled. In the very beginnings of Flags Over Wisconsin I would go there in the dark and pick siding up off the ground that had blown off in the wind until one day a giant backhoe was delivered and I figured I had better talk to someone about this and make it official.

White barns are hard to come by. The traditional red barns stand for two reasons. One being that farmers are cheap and the other, well, also that farmers are cheap. Dairy farmers would mix iron oxide with their milk to coat their barns cheaper than paint, and before your paint was mixed right at the store, red was the cheapest color you could buy.

White barns on the other hand are a product of our unique place and time here in Wisconsin.  In the days leading up to the Cold War Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin would lead his anti-communist campaign with the slogan “If it’s red it’s dead” and convinced Wisconsin farmers to paint their barns white.


Ron & Nola Nordeng Barn, Deforest, WI

The Nordeng family farm was built along the Yahara River in DeForest, Wis. in 1947. Originally homesteaded by Joseph Endgeseth, second owner, Adolf PH Nordeng, bought the property in the winter of 1944.  He began harvesting the oaks from across the river in ’46 to build the barn with his brother Peter Olson and teenage son, Ron, the following year. The barn was the centerpiece of the farm that raised corn, alfalfa, oats, tobacco and dairy cattle into the 1990’s.  It was retired in 2016. 

The building of the barn inspired Ron to a life long career as a Dane County Home builder. He’s alive and well, just turning 87 (July 2018) living on Swan Lake just a few miles from where he was born and raised his own family.

These pictures highlight Ron and the materials from his barn the day he met John, the owner of Stateline Distillery, kicking off his own life long pursuit.

Look at those blue eyes on Ron! The part that is the most dear to me besides these two men’s faces, is the fact that the Oak trees that grew from seed along the Yahara River and then built the barn are now the bar and still to this day are no more than a few hundred yards from the Yahara.

A Project from the Nordeng Barn - Stateline Distillery

The dilapidated Northern Plating Company building was due to be torn down and was a reclamation project in and of itself. The culmination of general contractor Supreme Structures, the architect Kirk Biodrowski of Sketchworks Architecture, John Mleziva of Stateline Distillery and myself Jeremiah Logemann of Flags Over Wisconsin caught the eye of the industry, winning the award of “Most Green Building Solution of 2017” from InBusiness Magazine among projects like the Northwestern Mutual Tower of Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin’s new Union Terrace.

Almost every part of this room, right down to the fasteners on the trim is reclaimed from the Nordeng family farm. The ship lap roofing boards of the barn are now the tasting room walls.  Those boards were nailed to the arched rafters which are now the tables, nook and light fixtures. The oak floor trusses of the haymow are now the bar tops, drink rail and window sills. The bar face is siding from the tobacco barn down the road and the legs of the coffee table are pulley wheels from the tractor that powered the saw to cut this lumber.  

The Ripp Barn, Martinsville, WI

Built in the Township of Martinsville, Wis. in the 1890’s by Gerhardt Dolphin. Bernard Ripp purchased the property in 1945 and it is still farmed by his son Gerald today.  The lower portion of the barn was to house horse equipment and the high side was the granary that stored oats and barley.  The corn crib was added in 1955.

The Buechner Barns, Cross Plains, WI

 Purchased in 1936 by Vic Seaman, of Seaman Lumber and then sold to the oldest of his eleven kids, Edith and her husband Florian Buechner twelve years later. The farm produced corn, alfalfa, oats, pigs, chickens and 30 milking cows. The material salvaged came from the corn crib, the hog house and the truck shed, which was bought from the neighboring Meinholz family in the early 50’s and moved from across Military Road with a D8 Caterpillar. Reclaimed in partnership with the Village of Cross Plains. This property is now Baer Park.