Saturday, January 11, 2014

Round Barn of Chatham, Mississippi

Mississippi has an unusual semi-round barn in Washington County. This one is in Chatham, near Lake Washington. Take the Eastside Lake Washington Road north of Lake Washington, and at the 3-way junction with Leota Road and Stein Road, you will see the barn.
Round barn, Chatham, Mississippi
It is called round but is really 16-sided. According to Preservation Mississippi's 101 Mississippi Places to See Before You Die (the preliminary list), the barn dates from the 1920s:

Chatham MS

Sharecroppers' shares were kept separate in this structure which was divided into compartments. Cotton trailers were backed up to the high openings and the cotton was unloaded into the individual farmer's section. 
Update January 2017.  Mississippi Department of Archives and History has placed a historic marker in front of the barn. 

Cotton fields, Chatham, Mississippi
As of a few years ago, these fields were still being used for cotton production. But, depending on commodity prices, they could also be used for soybeans or something else. 
Drive on Lake Jackson Road, and you can see some old sheds and crumbling houses.

True round barns were pioneered at the University of Illinois, in Urbana, Illinois. The round barns were supposed to be easier to erect, use less material for the enclosed volume, and withstand Midwestern wind storms better than the regular rectangle design. The round design became popular in the decades between 1880 and 1920, with hundreds being erected in Illinois, Indiana, and adjoining states. I have eaten in a restaurant that was situated in one of these round barns in Champaign, Illinois. As I recall, the roof was supported by a single strong central pole, leaving much open space around the periphery.

There is a nationwide round barn inventory you can explore. 

Another true round barn is in Arcadia, Oklahoma, along Route 66

Not far away from Chatham is another architectural curiosity, the Italianate and now-crumbling mansion Mount Holly

Digital images taken with a Sony DSC-W7 compact digital camera.


  1. I have wanted to go see the Round Barn ever since that 101 list!

    1. It is unique. My father and I use to duck hunt on lake washington and the ms river when I was young and we always passed that round barn. Dad even had a joke he would tell every time we passed.

    2. What was the joke?
      This is all too cool!
      My father inherited the round barn and farm land around it from is mothers cousin. He grew up in Arkansas not far from Chathem, but spent his summers on the farm. We take a lot of pride in the barn.
      As neat as the barn is, the general store that use to be across the street was my fondest memory of the area. I only remember seeing it once before it was torn down. We only have a few paintings and one photograph that we can't seem to find.


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