- Associated Press - Friday, October 20, 2017

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) - A Cass County barn about 160 years old is being dismantled piece by piece so that it can be shipped to Australia, where it will be rebuilt as a house.

The 40-by-60-foot barn, built in the 1850s, has been in Roger Kunkle’s family since his grandfather bought the farm it stood on in 1932.

Kunkle said he raised hogs in the barn for about 20 years and his father had a few cattle. But for about the past 15 years, Kunkle, who grows corn and soybeans and no longer raises livestock, said there hasn’t been much use for the structure. And so he started looking at having it taken down.

A few years ago Kunkle connected with Indiana Barns, a Peru-based company that restores, dismantles and moves old barns.

“It’s a fairly expensive venture so it’s been a little hard to find somebody that wants to take on something like this,” said Kyle Clifton, owner of Indiana Barns. “Never dreamed it would go to Australia though.”

Terry Harris, a builder based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, said he started looking at barns 17 years ago. About three years ago, he said he started getting serious about finding one to turn into a house. He began searching for barns on the internet, which led him to Indiana Barns, which led him to Kunkle.

Harris first visited Kunkle’s barn about a year and a half ago along with others in Indiana and Ohio before deciding on Kunkle‘s, Clifton recalled.

What does Harris like about the barn?

“You don’t have to ask me,” Harris said, his Australian accent standing out among the Hoosier drawls on the work site. “Ask anybody, anybody that looks at it, anybody that’s got a heart. If somebody can’t see any beauty in that, I don’t want to have a beer with them.”

Harris intends to rebuild the barn as a house on 100 acres in Victoria with a mountain valley view.

“I’ll rent it to people who want to get away for the weekend or maybe have a small wedding, birthday, that sort of thing,” he said.

He doesn’t sympathize with those who may feel the area is losing a piece of its history.

“You were going to lose it anyway,” he said. “The farmer doesn’t want it anymore. It’s been for sale for three years. Nobody else wants it. It’s going to Australia. If you want to come to Australia and rent it off me, come to Australia. I’ll take a heap of your money and you can stay in it for a weekend.”

Harris has been a builder for 40 years and has built what he estimates to be 120 houses and a few factories, but this is his first barn.

“I’ve built a lot of different things but not this different,” he said. “I haven’t done anything like this before.”

He and workers with Indiana Barns have been dismantling the structure for about three weeks. On Monday, Oct. 16, they pried hand-hewn beams loose from the wooden pegs that have connected them together for over a century and a half.

Kunkle and Clifton marveled at the beams that spanned the length of the structure.

“The spectacular part about it is it has four timbers that go the full length, so they’re 60-feet-long one-piece timbers,” Clifton said. “That’s probably the most challenging part, is getting them things down and preserved like they are. It’s just incredible to think about the size of the tree those came out of.”

Kunkle agreed.

“It took a heck of a tree to make that,” he said.

Workers have been labeling pieces throughout the project that correspond with a blueprint Harris drafted of the structure.

“That way basically anybody could put it back up, kind of like putting a puzzle together,” Clifton said.

All of the barn’s pieces will be placed in a container before heading to Indianapolis or Chicago to be fumigated, Harris said. Then the container will be placed on a ship and arrive in Australia a couple months later.

Harris said he wants Indiana Barns to travel to Australia to help him reconstruct the barn.

Australia is the farthest his company has ever relocated a barn, Clifton said.

When Kunkle set out to get the barn taken down, he said he never thought it would end up across the world.

“I didn’t think it’d go that far,” he said.

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2gwsXWC

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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