Preserving Woodbury’s Miller Barn
Historical note: The information below was originally written when the barn was in need of major repairs. The Woodbury Heritage Society was in the process of creating awareness to save the barn and raise funds for the project.
The origin of the City of Woodbury can be traced to its early beginnings immediately before the Civil War. From that time until after World War II the area’s economy an social life rested almost entirely on agriculture. Woodbury never had a railroad, a bank or even a grocery store during this period. It did have plenty of barns.
Since 1983, The Heritage Society has been dedicated to preserving our community’s past by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and celebrating the diverse history of Woodbury. Today, we have a historic house and garden to help residents of our community learn about Woodbury’s early years. Now the Woodbury Heritage Society (WHS) has the opportunity to preserve and restore a barn that would serve as an exhibition space for early and large farm and city equipment from our past. This historic building would serve as the primary exhibition spaces for WHS’s collections of more than 1,000 small historic artifacts.
The city owns a barn located in the Valley Creek Open Space near Valley Creek Road and Settler’s Ridge Parkway. That barn is the August Miller Barn, built in 1921-22. The Miller Barn is a prime example of the early 20th century barns that were an integral part of our agricultural heritage. It combines several of the styles; it has a well-defined gambrel roof, it is a bank style barn resting on a hill, and it was constructed using post and beam techniques. There was not a nail used in the frame work, the joinery was secured with wooden pages–although on close inspection steel spikes can be found that were added in later years to reinforce the joints. The Miller Barn is an excellent example of the early barns of Woodbury.
The farmstead dates back to 1850 and has been owned over time by many families with familiar names. Among the folks living there were the Child’s, Munson’s, Mueller’s, Miller’s, Freidrich’s, Janokovich’s, and Bame’s. It is one of the few remaining barns in Woodbury. The barn is deteriorating and must be protected from further damage. The city has invited the WHS to be a partner to this end. The city may develop the area into a community park, as well as a history museum. The immediate needs, however, are to reroof and reside the barn to keep the interior of the building safe from the elements. The cost of doing that is $60,000.
Members testified at a meeting of Parks and Natural Resources Commission on May 3, 2016; the commission voted unanimously to recommend the City Council to grant the WHS four years in which to raise the funds to stabilize the barn. The Council considered the recommendation and approved it on a 4-to-1 vote on May 18. The WHS has embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise the necessary monies. The project will move forward as joint partnership with the City of Woodbury.
It is envisioned that the August Miller Barn will become a historical icon celebrating Woodbury’s heritage and those families and people who founded the community and a site to educate the young and old on Woodbury’s history.