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Restoring the Oldenburg Barn
March 14, 2002
by
Annie Miller

West facing side

BAILEYS HARBOR, WI - To some passers-by an old leaning structure such as a barn or house may evoke negative emotions. Your first instinct could deem it an eyesore, something to be eliminated- even though that old building may still hold memories of old times and old friends. Fortunately, the new owners of a neighborhood property on Highway 57 north of Baileys Harbor did not view their old barn in a negative light.

If you're a regular commuter travelling between Baileys Harbor and Sister Bay, you may have noticed some improvements taking place on an old barn.
The picturesque barn located on the former Emery and Irene Oldenburg farm on the East side of Hwy. 57 by Cedar Rd. is undergoing extensive renovation.

southeast corner

The barn was first home to cattle, and then Emery's Appaloosa horses during my lifetime. With the passing on of Emery, his wife Irene eventually sold the property.

The barn was aging. It was beginning to sag and lean as old barns do when in need of structural upgrades. After the sale of the property, neighbors wondered what would become of the old barn. Would it get a face-lift, or would it be left to lean until the timbers could no longer hold, and then cave in?
Scott Hoffman of Buhr Construction I'm happy that the new owners, Robert and Carolyn Kimbell of Baileys Harbor, are taking the life of the barn seriously.
In this day of hard economic times many old agricultural buildings slip into ruin, or are simply razed. Metal pole buildings with concrete floors, and metal sliding doors sometimes take their place. While the squarish, modern metal structures are efficient, they lack character. The surrounding physical and mental landscape is changed forever as old barns are lost, taking so manhy memories with them.

In it's "hayday", the farm and it's owners, Emery and Irene had a lot of fans. Kids from the area would come over to hang out and ride Emery's horses. Emery brought some of the first Appaloosa horses to the Peninsula. Some were wild Appaloosa's he would trailer back from his regular cattle drive vacations out West. One of Emery's mares even had a role in a Walt Disney film prior to Emery owning her. If you were a horse nut this was tantamount to fame in a small town.

Emery and Irene always had time for kids interested in horses. Emery told many a Wild West tale during tours of the farm. Horseback rides on these fancy spotted horses were a treat for many area children, teens, and adults.

While the Kimbell's may not be privy to all the memories of the old farmstead, now they won't be lost forever. A very thorough renovation is taking place.
The east section of the larger barn has been fitted with new support timbers and a masonary foundation on which they rest.
The old barn had dirt flooring, which contributed to wood rot. The dirt floor has been replaced by concrete. The roofing and rotted siding have been replaced and upgraded.

Cory Cornette of Buhr Construction Cory Cornette of Buhr Construction says work started in January, and he estimates that approximately $200,000 is being invested in saving and restoring this structure.
The barn is sided in the traditional barn red with white trim. The siding is now aluminum, and the structure is now protected from the elements.

A shiny green metal roof replaces the aged blue shingles.

If you pass by the farm, check out the beauty. If you drive to see the barn, the best time to view it is at sunset. The west lighting at sunset makes this one light up and show off its distinctive personality. Thanks to the Kimbell's the memories will live on.


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