The Heritage Barns of Indiana Project

Posted on Jul 30, 2012

McFadden Farms Stagecoach Barn in Posey County.

The Heritage Barns of Indiana Project is an on-going painting project which focuses on our dwindling heritage of early Indiana barns. The artist, Gwen Gutwein, a Barn Alliance member and  owner of

Gwen painting the Normandy Barn at the Indiana State Fair Grounds in Marion County.

a fine art studio/gallery in Fort Wayne, started this huge and important project in 2004.  She is striving to do paintings of at least two old and/or historic barns from each of Indiana’s 92 counties.  Along with the paintings, Gwen collects the barn’s distinctive history.  To date, she has completed over 110 out of the expected goal of 184 paintings.

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art sponsored the traveling exhibit: First Fifty, Heritage Barns of Indiana.  They took Gwen’s first 50 completed paintings and their histories and put them on tour throughout Indiana.  The exhibit has cataloged over 168,000 viewers!  The painting tour is coming to a close this year after over three years of traveling.  The first fifty paintings will be available for purchase after the tour is completed.  The next group of 50 paintings will be available for exhibit soon.

Hippensteel Barn in DeKalb County.

Inspiration for the Barns of Indiana project sprang out of Gwen’s desire to focus attention on the beauty and demise of our barns.  The world zooms past the old barns, without a glance.  As the seasons pass into years the barns from earlier centuries quietly bow their heads, close their eyes and vanish.  Indiana has a treasure, our barns.  Venture into any old barn and you will be amazed at the building materials used, the unique designs and the quality of construction.  They reflect the diversity, ingenuity and integrity of our ancestors and are chocked full of rich history…a treasure to behold…an Indiana treasure.

Since 2008 Gwen has published a calendar with a barn painting featured on each month. The calendars also include each barn’s rich history.  The 2013

Amy & David Dance Barn in Lake County.

calendar is nearly complete with extensive information on a working hay press barn.  The calendars sell for $16.00.  Visit Gwen’s web site for details.

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  1. Beautiful work.

  2. Love the paintings! Barns forever! We love ours, and wish we had some money to restore more of it. When we see old barns neglected and falling down, it gives us a sinking feeling, just like what we feel seeing old trees cut down and not replaced. Our history is disappearing before our eyes.

    Our barn dates from 1902 and was part of the first homestead in our mile. Our place is the highest point in the mile, and down from us, the old folks tell us, was originally swamp. The first homestead owners were German.

    The barn is a pass-through construction with concrete floor, and had four or so stalls on each side; one housing cattle and the other, hogs. It has a huge loft and an extra room for feed storage.Under the present roof are cedar or oak shakes and under that, fish scale shingles. The barn is made of hand-hewn, hand pegged oak from our property, which still has some gigantic swamp and pin oaks. We’ve re-roofed and painted the barn and have installed some new windows, but it needs new wiring.

    When my dad came to visit, his advice was, “Forget the house. Go live in the barn.”