Whispering the Past: Historic barn winks an eye at passersby

Tom Ross

— Next to the More Barn of Steamboat Ski Area poster fame, the Laramore Barn might be the most photographed barn in the Steamboat Springs area.

The big, white barn stands just a few feet off Routt County Road 14 south of the Tree Haus subdivision where morning commuters and afternoon cyclists can admire it daily. But it’s a quirky, little architectural detail that has caught the eye of dozens of photographers and caused images of the Laramore Barn to pop up in local art shows. Its paint is peeling just right.

And the grilles — the little pieces of wooden trim that divide a multipaned window on the front of the barn — have slipped until they sit lopsided in the frame. It gives the appearance that the barn is winking at passersby.

The Laramore Barn was featured in this summer’s art exhibit of historic Routt County buildings at the Tread of Pioneers Museum. The barn was built in 1922 for John Laramore, the son of William Laramore, who first settled in Yampa in 1883.

According to the Tread of Pioneers exhibit, many dances were held in the upper hay mow thoughout the years. And in the modern era, Jed Clampit, a popular musician here a couple of decades ago, even filmed a music video there.

As a historical side note, John Laramore had a sister named Opal Page, whose obituary I found in a folder at the Tread of Pioneers. Page lived through both World Wars and did her part to support the troops. Along with countless American women, she sewed clothes that were shipped to the troops in World War I and made bandages that were used to treat the wounded during World War II.

Anyone who is curious about local history can find a mountain of information at the museum. It helps to call the staff in advance at 970-879-2214.

When it comes to the future of the historic barns of Routt County, a good reference is local historian Arianthe Stettner’s thesis, “Put that Barn to Work!,” written for her Master of Arts in historic preservation for Goucher College in 2011.

The paper is in a locked case but available to the public for in-house review at Bud Werner Memorial Library. What it isn’t, is a detailed accounting of the history of notable barns around the county. Instead, it’s intended to answer two questions: “How do changes in agricultural operations, the local economy, use and demographics influence Routt County’s heritage barns?” And “Can the heritage barns of Routt County embrace change?”

Stettner wrote a historic overview of several periods of agriculture and the barns that sprang up in those eras. And she interviewed owners and operators of 19 barns to determine what factors lead to their preservation. She found that all but one of the owners she talked to felt that preserving their structure was a reasonable goal. But for that to happen, it needed to be functional in the modern era.

Or as one barn owner put it, “If you want to preserve it, you have to use it. Put that barn to work!”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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