Believe it or not, we here in the United States may not know where our oldest barn is located. Our oldest farms date from the 1610s in Charles County, Virginia to the 1630s in Concord, New Hampshire and Ipswich, Massachusetts but the original barns do not survive. There is a barn in Pennsylvania where the stones used for its walls say 1724 but the owner believes the stones were reused to rebuild the barn. The oldest barn may be in New York near the town of Chester in the Hudson Valley.
The Johnson family began dairy farming in 1743 and like many farmers built their barn first. While the farm has modernized over the years the old barn is still used to store hay and as a shelter for the Johnson’s dairy cattle herd. Ax marks are visible on the wood, a testament to building techniques before modern power tools. Wood pegs are still holding the barn’s joints together though some modern cast iron supports have been added over time.
Others may be a bull-barn possibly dating to 1726 in Orange County, New York or the Jones Log Barn in Pennsylvania dating to around 1730. It is difficult to tell. Historians use dendro-dating (examining tree rings), radiocarbon dating, and an examination of tool marks on the structure to date it. At best though this provides a ± of 30 years. A number of Maryland Tobacco Barns on the Western Shore had dated to the 17th century but were torn down when farmers were discouraged from growing tobacco.