What is four stories high, round, red and over 115 years old? Why the Round Barn of course! Located 20 miles northeast of Oklahoma City near the town of Arcadia (population 320), this barn has become one of the state’s best known landmarks and is a must stop on vacation travels.
The structure was built by William Harrison Odor, a teacher from Potwin, Kansas, after he and his wife, Myra, moved to Oklahoma Territory in 1892. “Big Bill” Odor built a saw mill on the property and began milling native bur oak for the boards. These boards were soaked while green, bound together and forced into the curves needed for the walls and roof rafters. The barn is 60 feet in diameter and 43 feet high with a foundation of the local red rock. The barn housed hay, grain and livestock but from the start served as a center for community activities. During construction, workers realized it would be a ‘fine’ place for dances and persuaded Big Bill to let them lay flooring suitable for dancing. A second level was then incorporated for use as a community gathering place and dance hall. The round oak floor is bigger than a basketball court and is surrounded with simple benches. No one knows why he chose the round design but there is some speculation that the barn was built to protect it from the devastation of tornadoes.
|Photo Courtesy of Oklahoma Historical Commission|
Due the reduction of traffic along Route 66 following the arrival of Interstate 35, Arcadia and the barn declined.
In 1988 the 60 foot diameter roof collapsed. Mindful of its colorful past, volunteers, known as the over-the-hill-gang because most were over 65 years of age, stepped up to save it. The restoration project was completed in 1992. Now, the ground floor serves as a visitor center with historic photos and mementos displayed for perusal. A really neat video shows the restoration project of this historic structure. The upstairs is used for weddings, parties, political meetings and church services.
|Photo Courtesy Oklahoma Historical Commission|
Listed in the National Register of Historical Places since 1977, today the Round Barn is a tourist attraction and visitors admire the architectural and engineering details of America's only truly round (as opposed to hexagonal or octagonal) barn. So if you are cruising Route 66, get your kicks at the Round Barn in Oklahoma!!