Metamorphosis of the Peterson Farmstead

Highlighting the Corn Crib and Main Barn

The Midwestern Countryside

Farmsteads were being built up from the time the Midwest was settled by Europeans in the mid-1800’s through the 1950’s and 60’s. Magnificent barns, corn cribs and granaries were raised to hold the bounty of feed and livestock that helped to make these farms flourish. As agribusiness came to increasingly dominate agriculture during the second half of the twentieth century, these homey, comforting clusters of farm buildings that once graced the countryside began to rapidly degrade and disappear.

The Peterson Farmstead

At the Peterson farm, now the home of Angelic Organics and the Angelic Organics Learning Center,  my mother Anna and I had a strong ethic to preserve the farmstead, in spite of the sweeping changes that were making our farm’s buildings obsolete for their original purposes. Although there was often no financial incentive to do so, we roofed, patched, and painted the buildings to keep them looking nice. This ethic continues today. All of the farm buildings at Angelic Organics live inside of me. For me, they are beings; they have life. They evolve and decay and evolve; they metamorphose. I help to guide them in their unfoldment.

To Whom do Farms Belong?

It is a tremendous effort and expense to keep the many buildings on the Angelic Organics farm in good repair, and, furthermore, to adapt them to contemporary uses. In certain ways, these buildings belong to the social and cultural realm, so that those who have left the land over the generations can have access to a farm they feel connected with, a farm that lives in their hearts, regardless of their urban or suburban upbringings and lifestyles.

A Tale of Two Buildings

The photographs below chronicle somewhat the unfoldment of two of the main structures on the farm, the Corn Crib and the Main Barn. I present them, so that you too can develop a relationship with them. They will transport you from years past through today.

Metamorphosis of the Corn Crib

Gracing the Peterson Farm since the 1930’s, the Corn Crib/Granary stored oats and ear corn for the Peterson dairy and poultry operations through the mid-60’s. It had a low tin roof until the 50’s and then received its current gothic roof so that it could store even more oats and corn.

1970's, Corn Crib, (larger building with Cupola)
1970's, Corn Crib, (larger building with Cupola)
2003, Corn Crib almost lost
2003, Corn Crib almost lost
2003, straightening the Corn Crib
2003, straightening the Corn Crib
2003, Primo Briano muscles the Corn Crib straight
2003, Primo Briano muscles the Corn Crib straight
2003, saving the Corn Crib
2003, saving the Corn Crib
2010, Corn Crib saved
2010, Corn Crib saved
2003, Downstairs of Corn Crib, Center Aisle (Note empty grain bin at near left; wooden ladder to upstairs corn & grain storage; Farmer John at far right.)
2003, Downstairs of Corn Crib, Center Aisle (Note empty grain bin at near left; wooden ladder to upstairs corn & grain storage; Farmer John at far right.)
2013, Downstairs of Corn Crib, Center Aisle, now the Angelic Organics Office (Note office at near left, which was once a grain bin.)
2013, Downstairs of Corn Crib, Center Aisle, now the Angelic Organics Office (Note office at near left, which was once a grain bin.)
2010, exterior upper Corn Crib
2010, exterior upper Corn Crib
2010, exterior, detail
2010, exterior, detail
2013, saved Corn Crib, after hours
2013, saved Corn Crib, after hours
2003, Corn Crib interior, with Cupola at top of frame
2003, Corn Crib interior, with Cupola at top of frame
2013, Corn Crib interior, lazured walls (lower corner of Cupola at top of frame) This loft, known as the Granary, now serves as Farmer John's & Haidy's office, guest room, and special events space.
2013, Corn Crib interior, lazured walls (lower corner of Cupola at top of frame) This loft, known as the Granary, now serves as Farmer John's & Haidy's office, guest room, and special events space.
2013, Corn Crib ceiling including Cupola
2013, Corn Crib ceiling including Cupola
2013, detail of Cupola with glass walkway, Swedish ivy and disco ball
2013, detail of Cupola with glass walkway, Swedish ivy and disco ball
2013, Corn Crib, Lazured Walls
2013, Corn Crib, Lazured Walls
2013, Corn Crib, Easter Shrine
2013, Corn Crib, Easter Shrine
2013, Corn Crib Hospitality
2013, Corn Crib Hospitality

Metamorphosis of the Main Barn

Built in the mid-1950’s as the center of the Peterson dairy operation, the barn held 34 milking cows. Farmer John and his family filled the barn loft with several thousand bales of straw and hay, season after season. It was used for livestock production until the early 80’s.

1981, Main Barn (Tall arched windows in barn, from demolished First and Last Chance Tavern in Beloit, were added in 1980,)
1981, Main Barn (Tall arched windows in barn, from demolished First and Last Chance Tavern in Beloit, were added in 1980,)
1981, Barn Loft as Artists' Studio and Community Center. On pedestals, left to right, Lisa Stone, Farmer John, Isa Jacoby
1981, Barn Loft as Artists' Studio and Community Center. On pedestals, left to right, Lisa Stone, Farmer John, Isa Jacoby
Mid-1990's, Loft served as Farm Office and Community Center
Mid-1990's, Loft served as Farm Office and Community Center
Fall, 2011, Primo Briano and Pollo Casique approach the tattered loft roof
Fall, 2011, Primo Briano and Pollo Casique approach the tattered loft roof
Fall, 2011, making progress on the windy roof
Fall, 2011, making progress on the windy roof
Spring, 2013
Spring, 2013
Early Spring, 2012
Early Spring, 2012
Mid-Spring, 2012
Mid-Spring, 2012
Early Winter, 2012, water damage from leaky roof of barn loft. The loft was thoroughly unusable
Early Winter, 2012, water damage from leaky roof of barn loft. The loft was thoroughly unusable
Early Winter, 2012, detail of water damage in loft interior
Early Winter, 2012, detail of water damage in loft interior
Winter, 2012, Primo and Pollo install new muslin fabric and insulation
Winter, 2012, Primo and Pollo install new muslin fabric and insulation
Dormer windows built by Primo into the west loft wall
Dormer windows built by Primo into the west loft wall
Early Spring, 2012, Primo applies tung oil finish to the original loft floor
Early Spring, 2012, Primo applies tung oil finish to the original loft floor
Mid-Spring, 2012, ready for the Community Loft Re-Inauguration (1st Inauguration, 1981)
Mid-Spring, 2012, ready for the Community Loft Re-Inauguration (1st Inauguration, 1981)
Mid-Spring, 2012, the Community celebrates the Re-Inauguration of the Loft
Mid-Spring, 2012, the Community celebrates the Re-Inauguration of the Loft
Spring, 2013, Community Loft Refreshment Center....always coffee and tea for farm visitors
Spring, 2013, Community Loft Refreshment Center....always coffee and tea for farm visitors
It's a lovely staircase, with a railing fashioned from dividers that were once in the dairy barn.
It's a lovely staircase, with a railing fashioned from dividers that were once in the dairy barn.
Summer, 2013
Summer, 2013
Don't flee through this Emergency Exit in an emergency, or you'll create a bigger emergency. Wait until there is a deck and staircase in place.
Don't flee through this Emergency Exit in an emergency, or you'll create a bigger emergency. Wait until there is a deck and staircase in place.
1970's, Milkhouse Loft, Farmer John's bedroom
1970's, Milkhouse Loft, Farmer John's bedroom
Barn Kitchen
Barn Kitchen
Barn Kitchen, Table can seat 18
Barn Kitchen, Table can seat 18
Feather Room in downstairs of Main Barn
Feather Room in downstairs of Main Barn
Feather Room, lit up
Feather Room, lit up
Milla, Haidy, Nancy and Tom lit up by the Feather Room
Milla, Haidy, Nancy and Tom lit up by the Feather Room

Thank You

Thank you for joining the Corn Crib, the Main Barn and me in this journey through time, through degradations and upgrades, through imaginations crystallizing into form. We are thrilled to share our metamorphoses with you.

Farmer John