Fire Claims Historic Marengo Round Barn

Although collapsed in the middle, the state’s oldest remaining example of “round-style barn” construction was lost to fire Nov. 24, when the wind changed direction on a small fire nearby and caught the structure with sparks, according to statements. At the time, the barn’s wood was being reclaimed and several posts had been saved, when the fire started.

A 911 call was received at 10:51 a.m., from the barn’s owner, who was notified of the blaze, and firefighters were dispatched from several districts to the site location at 25208 River Road. The individual on-site, Rick Rath, had started a small fire to burn unusable lumbered parts, when the wind caught it. He had been given permission to remove wood from the barn, which had buckled under the weight from a heavy snowstorm in 2008.

“It was a round barn, collapsed already in the center,” said Fire Chief Robert Bradbury, of the Marengo Fire Protection District. “It was going to be torn down. The gentleman reclaiming the wood had a little fire going, to burn excess wood. That was what caught the barn on fire. Winds changed on him, and no investigation is taking place, based on his statement.”

“There were several fire protection districts that responded including us, the Union Fire Protection District, Harvard…Capron came with an ambulance, but there were no injuries. The Woodstock Fire and Rescue District came out too, but they turned around,” he said. “All that’s left there is the stone foundation of the barn.”

The barn’s owner was in a field harvesting seed corn, and not in the immediate area, at the time of the fire. Fire Crews left at approximately 12:40 p.m. that same day.

Records indicate the barn was built in 1897, and although partially collapsed, it was the oldest remaining round barn example in the state of Illinois. Historic barn and storage structures are part of the agricultural legacy in Mc Henry County

The first upright silo built in the United States was located on the outskirts of Spring Grove at 801 Main Street, in Burton Township. Erected inside a barn, it was built by Fred Hatch, and his father, Lewis. Lasting until 1980, portions of the rock and mortar foundation are the only existing traces. It was recognized with a plaque as a landmark site by the Mc Henry County Historical Society, based in Union.

Another major fire involving a barn occurred on property located at 18000-block of Church Road, nearly one year ago. The barn and a garage were consumed by flames, also killing some livestock and chickens. The owner unsuccessfully attempted to extinguish the fire with a hose, before going to a neighbor’s house to call 911. Several fire protection districts responded, and Bradbury later said the cause was undetermined, due to the complete loss of the buildings and their contents.