Harry Keith Barn

Merit Award for Excellence in Preservation
Harry Keith Barn, Penokee (Graham County)

The Harry Keith Barn has served the agricultural needs of the land on which it sits for 70 years. The barn was designed for storing large quantities of hay on the upper level, with the lower level providing space for milking and housing livestock. Built into a south-facing hillside, the barn was well insulated against the cold and had a sunny barnyard to keep the livestock warm during the winter months. Well maintained and cared for, the weariness of time had crept into the barn, leading to the present preservation project. To kick off the project, the barn was added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, making the funds needed for the project available. No alterations were made, only replacement of original materials where they had deteriorated beyond repair. A new north concrete foundation wall was constructed, the corrugated metal roof was replaced, and a newly reconstructed stair to the upper level was added. The original siding, doors, and windows were repaired and replaced. The classic barn colors of red with white trim were applied as the final step bringing the barn back into its original condition. The original decorative design of a western prancing horse was duplicated by Harry Keith’s grandson and placed on the west wall at the completion of the restoration. The agricultural use of the barn continues today, being used for equipment storage, farm tours, and educating school students and community members about the history of old barns. The barn and its accompanying vintage windmill, silhouetted against the rural Kansas landscape from afar, continues to give future generations an opportunity to experience something of Kansas’ local agricultural past and of the lifestyle of those who held a very special affinity with, and for, the land.

State historic preservation tax credits and a Heritage Trust Fund grant were utilized to fund this preservation.


The project team included: Diana Nickelson, Kansas State Historical Society, Mort Plunkett, Architect; Cornerstone Building and Design; Todd Dumler, Assistant Contractor; Schamber Historic Preservation, LLC; Larry Keith Carpentry and Painting; Roof Masters Roofing and Sheet Metal; Jay and Whitney Nickelson; Alan and LaDonna Waites; Lauren Dempewolf; Cynthia Keith; Roger and Karmen Davignon; Ron and GiGi Davignon; Marllys Stember; and Milden Keith.