Preservation Pop Quiz…name this outbuilding!

Heritage Ohio recently held its quarterly board meeting on Kelleys Island. While on our way from lunch to the meeting destination we passed by this agricultural relic pictured below (NOT the big grey pole building!)














This outbuilding was once an indispensable component of the 19th century Ohio farm. Used to store and dry a common farm product, this outbuilding’s name is derived from its unique shape. What is it?

Update: The building pictured above is known as a coffin corn crib, used for the drying and storage of corn after the annual harvest. In this picture, you see a doorway leading into the crib. A typical corn crib had no foundation but rested on rough stone piers (on Kelleys Island, grey limestone would be the native stone of choice for the piers). The small gaps between the horizontal siding allowed for air circulation, and the inward slope of the exterior walls assured that rain water could not wet the corn, causing spoilage of the crop.

Corn cribs have a fascinating history in the US, and a quick trip to your local bookstore or library can help you sleuth out published sources for more information. Happy hunting!

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4 Responses to “Preservation Pop Quiz…name this outbuilding!”
  1. Sharon Irons Perry says:

    Please tell me what this outbuilding is used for.
    We’ve been trying to identify an old outbuilding on the property of the Troxell-Steckel House in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. It is shaped like this one, however it’s somewhat narrower. No one seems to know what it was for.

  2. gold account says:

    When I was growing up in NW Kansas, we used open top cribs and never had any moisture problems; it has been over 50 years (I think 1958 was the last year dad had ear corn.) since we shelled corn from a crib. I’m one of the last two people present that day and I’m 64 years old; the other guy is 87 or 88.

    • frank says:

      Thanks for the comments. I wonder if the midwest’s proximity to the Great Lakes meant wetter falls, increasing the chance of spoiling the crop before winter set in; hence, the need for roofs. It’s amazing how farm technology has changed in even 50 years, which makes these now obsolete outbuildings even more rare.