Ron Layton pressed a palm against the barn's weathered door frame as if greeting an old friend - or maybe to prove the 98-year-old west Layton landmark is as sturdy as he says.
Layton's ancestors helped create the city and now, thanks to his carpentry and conviction, a part of that history stands tall on his 60-acre west Gentile Street farm.Layton's alfalfa-green barn - 60 feet long, 42 feet wide and 30 feet tall - was one of six restored barns in the country recognized this year by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Featured in "Successful Farming" magazine of Des Moines, Iowa, winners received $250 and a plaque praising their efforts "in preserving and maintaining rural heritage."
Layton said he already knows where the money's going. "I'll put it right back into the place, another coat of paint or something. I want to see it stay up for years," he said.
He's already spent more than $2,700 refurbishing the barn his grandfather built around the turn of the century, doing everything from replacing rusty nails to coating its cedar-shingle roof with 50 gallons of linseed oil as protection from the elements.
Layton can point to spots where other old barns once stood. Most have been replaced by featureless brick or metal buildings.
But Layton's barn has a nostalgic farm flavor that attracted the National Trust, said Mary Humstone, director of the so-called "Barn Again" awards. Layton lost the $1,000 grand prize to a large Wyoming horse ranch's log barn, but Humstone said she pushed for smaller, quaint projects like Layton's.
"The histories they contain and the stories they could tell . . . it's not useless just because it's old," she said.