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Cupolas on Barns: An American Tradition

If American architecture could be summed up in one feature, it would be the cupola. Cupolas are such an integral part of early American architecture that nearly every capital and historic building boasts one.

Cupolas (kyo͞opələ) noun: a small dome, especially a small dome on a drum on top of a larger dome, adorning a roof or ceiling. The word cupola is an Italian word from the Renaissance, a time in architectural history when ornamentation, domes, and columns defined a rebirth of Greek and Roman building designs The word is from the Latin cupula, meaning a kind of cup or tub. Sometimes these cupolas look like tubs along a roofline.

A barn that didn’t get enough fresh air ran the risk of sick livestock, spoiled crops, and hay fires. That is why farmers started to incorporate cupolas on barns as an easy, effective way to ensure their barns could shed noxious fumes and excess heat, protecting the animals and items inside. Cupolas also help protect wooden barns from rot, mold and mildew by venting humid air, lowering the moisture level inside the barn.

Nothing embodies a farm like a barn. If you ask anyone from school age to old age to conjure a visual of a farm and today cupolas are still an integral part of barn design, brightening up interiors, ventilating lofts, and enhancing aesthetic appeal.

Barns are important if not vital to most farm operations. Providing a place to maintain and repair equipment, fabricate parts if necessary, build with wood or metal, store tools, feed and/or house livestock; the barn is not only iconic, it is the hub of farm activity.

Ours was leaky and in need of repair and we are excited to announce it has been renovated with the structural bones and spirit of the old barn incorporated into a new incarnation of the building, with bold new Cupolas shining in the sun!


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