Barn move signals preservation of rural landscape

2012-09-13T18:30:00Z 2012-09-15T01:23:08Z Barn move signals preservation of rural landscapeJohn Scheibel john.scheibel@nwi.com (219) 548-4358 nwitimes.com
September 13, 2012 6:30 pm  • 

MORGAN TOWNSHIP | Smiles and tears, and dozens of onlookers, greeted an old barn as it was moved Thursday to its new home in rural Porter County.

The barn, built during the 1930s, was lifted off its old foundation at the corner of Ind. 49 and Division Road and moved south about three-quarters of a mile to property that sits between the highway and Sager Road.

The barn is part of the Maxwell family legacy.

The barn moved from the property where Jane Maxwell lives and raised her three children to the property owned by her daughter, Deb Maxwell.

The decision to move the barn was made around Christmas 2011.

But the decision to help preserve the rural landscape of Porter County was made by Jane Maxwell’s late husband, Philip, long before he died on Christmas Day in 1999.

Deb Maxwell said her father watched the barn being built during his youth. It originally served as a dairy farm, but took on other uses as the years went on.

Deb Maxwell said she and her siblings, Mark Maxwell and Cheri Maxwell Birky, grew up around the barn, and spent many hours tending to their 4-H projects in the building, on property that sits across Division Road from the Porter County Fairgrounds and Expo Center.

But the neighborhood is changing, she said. The area is now home to light industrial businesses.

Barns are a symbol of the family farm – something her father held sacred.

That’s why Philip Maxwell would tell his family: “Keep it up or tear it down; just don’t let it fall down.”

Deb Maxwell teared up repeating her father’s words Thursday as the barn inched its way off the highway and onto her property, which sits just west of the Stone Creek subdivision.

The event, which closed Ind. 49 for part of Thursday morning, drew many residents from Morgan Township, some bringing folding chairs, many taking photos and video of workers’ efforts to maneuver the building under utility lines.

The party atmosphere seemed appropriate on what would have been Philip Maxwell’s 78th birthday.

Deb Maxwell, who now lives in Hoboken, N.J., said she’s got no plans for the building. The barn will sit on property she pledged not to develop during her lifetime.

“The barn is a symbol of the American dream,” she said. “We just want to keep it intact and keep it in the rural landscape.”

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