Repairs to Arcadia’s Round Barn were completed this month

A weeks-long project to repair the 120-year-old Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma, was finished on Feb. 9.

The general contractor, Holman Construction, said the repairs would add another 30 years of life to the Route 66 landmark.

The cost was a little more than $110,000, with $30,000 coming from a grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and the rest from the Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society.

The barn originally was restored by Luke Robison and his “Over-the-Hill Gang” more than 30 years ago. Those repairs were more extensive, as the barn’s roof had caved in.

A detailed article by Richard Stephens Jr. for the Oklahoma Route 66 Association contains many details about the most recent project:

Starting early December, Holman and James Scott, the primary carpenters, removed two rows of rotting and warped sideboards at a time and replaced them with new ones. Tarps covered any missing boards at night to keep rain and wind from coming inside.

Holman explained how the boards were bent. “So, I came up with the idea of steaming the wood and did some studying up on it…I built a steam box. It was 17-foot long ‘cause our material was a little over 16 [feet]. I have four steamers running on it and it runs about 200 degrees…we could put about six to seven pieces of siding in there at one time…”

The boards would steam for about an hour, be removed, and according to Dustin Ward, a volunteer who watched the process, “they would place the wood [against the barn’s frame] and nail one end of it and then just bend it around and nail this part and bend some more…”

The custom milled yellow pine boards use tongue and groove joinery, don’t have knotholes, and are 14-16 feet long and 5 ¼” wide. About 1,700 square feet of siding was installed. Holman used nails, not screws, as Odor and Robison did.

Robison’s gang soaked the boards in a nearby creek so they could be more easily bent. Holman’s steamers essentially accomplished the same thing.

Grounds Painting of Oklahoma City primed and repainted the barn, which reportedly draws 40,000 visitors annually.

A few photos taken during the restoration process can be viewed here.

William Odor, who co-founded Arcadia, built the barn at his farm in 1898. He used native bur oak boards soaked while they were green and forced into the curves needed for the walls and rafters.

Odor reputedly chose the barn’s round shape because it supposedly would be tornado-proof.

A dirt road designated as State Highway 7 was built between the barn and the railroad tracks in 1914. That road became U.S. 66 a dozen years later.

(Image of the repaired Arcadia Round Barn via the Oklahoma Route 66 Association)

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