CHASE — The Krause Stone Barn isn’t merely a scenic site in the Wisconsin countryside.
“The stone barn really is the town’s identity,” said Jeff VanEnkevort, chairman of the Town of Chase Park Commission. “It’s an important place, and the renovation is something the entire community came together and supported as a concerted effort. Everybody loves it.”
The community recently celebrated the 115th anniversary of the barn’s construction.
The structure, included on the National Register of Historic Places and State Register of Historic Places, is among only a handful of all-fieldstone barns still standing in the United States.
The barn underwent an extensive renovation a few years ago and has retained its historic charm. “You see a lot of people there taking pictures as a backdrop because it’s so beautiful,” VanEnkevort said.
Longtime Chase resident Norb Reinhard, who was involved with the renovation effort, said the barn “has gotten to be very, very important. It’s become a real focal point for us.”
The barn measures 100 feet long and 60 feet wide, with walls 2 feet thick. Embedded in one wall is an inscription that reads, “1903, D.E. Krause, Architect, Wm Mensenkamp, Mason.”
Daniel Krause Sr. and his family emigrated from Germany and settled in the town of Chase in 1867, which was six years before the town was established (originally as St. Nathans, before changing to Chase in 1890). Settlement occurred rapidly throughout the region as farmers bought inexpensive, newly cleared farm land.
In 1876, Daniel Krause Jr. married and took over running his father’s farm. The family, with nine children, also owned and operated a nearby sawmill and co-owned a farm implement dealership. In addition, they hunted, logged and made maple syrup.
In 1903, Krause enlisted the help of a local stonemason, Wilhelm Mensenkamp, to use fieldstones to build a barn.
“With unusual flair and in a style that harkens back to the great granaries of Europe, a stone barn like no other was erected that was so magnificent it would withstand the test of time,” stated a report by the Chase Stone Barn Committee.
The barn walls were constructed of lime putty mortar and stones, including granite, quartz, mica, feldspar, gneiss, hornblende, gabbro and schist, among others. They were picked by hand from local farm fields, having been deposited in the region by glaciers thousands of years ago.
The barn was designed with large arched doorways on each end, allowing farmers to enter through one end with a wagon full of hay, unload the hay into the loft using a rope and pulley mounted on a track system, and then proceed out the other end.
Arched lintels above doorways and windows support the openings while giving the barn a stylish architectural design.
Another interesting component of the barn is the half stone wall that separates the threshing area from the stable area. It also was used as a porthole to pass feed through. Feed was dropped over the edge of the loft and then pushed by hand through the wooden hinged doors into the stable area on the other side.
A large cement ring inside the threshing area is believed to have been the foundation for a wooden stave silo or cistern. And an old pump fed water from a hand-dug, stone-lined well located about 50 feet from the barn.
Krause sold his farm in 1920, and numerous people owned the barn in the ensuing decades.
Several years ago, a local land developer bought the property. Upon hearing of the barn’s importance to the community, he sold the structure to the town so it could protect it and make it the focal point of a new park, which is surrounded by farmland and maintains its rural appeal.
Chase Stone Barn Park, 8246 County Highway S, Chase, is open to the public. For information about renting the barn, call Cindy Kroll at 920-822-5909.
Three years ago, another farm building from the town of Chase was moved to Chase Stone Barn Park and placed a few hundred feet west of the stone barn. VanEnkevort said he anticipates that building is being worked on in preparation for use as a museum and storage space.
The barn and surrounding park “will stand as a legacy to one man’s vision and a testament to the hardworking men and women that helped build this country,” the park committee report stated.