What Are the Maasdam Barns?

2000 South Main Street, Fairfield, Iowa

The historic Maasdam Barns at the Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm are a significant illustration of an early 20th-century draft-horse breeding business.

The Show Barn, the horse sign, and the Mare Barn

From 1910 until 1938 the owner of this farm, J. G. Maasdam, raised and sold award-winning draft horses.  Click to see the full-sized sign of the world's largest horse.

World's largest horse

The three barns on this farmstead came to be known as the Maasdam Barns, since the owner and his family lived on the farmstead.

The two barns built in 1910 (above) were apparently designed by the Louden barn design division, an internationally known farm-equipment manufacturer that was headquartered in Fairfield.

Modern barn construction methods, such as poured concrete walls, were used, and they featured Louden Machinery Company barn products.

Lane and windmill in 2001

This photo of the Mare Barn was taken in September, 2001, before restoration began.

The third barn (the Show Barn) was apparently built in 1906, by then-owner of the farm, Ellsworth Turney.  He had retired from Joel Turney and Company, which built well-known farm wagons and was Fairfield's largest employer in the early 1900's.

The history of all three barns can be seen in the Historic Study (PDF),  prepared for the Iowa DOT in 2002.  This 2002 report contains history, photos and diagrams of the barns and the old farmhouses.

(Quoted from the Good Roads Guide to Iowa - 1912)
"Jefferson County is one of the great original horse markets of the country and several thousand head of horses have been sold here annually.  Several firms of horse importers make their headquarters here and always have stock for sale.".

 

See photo essays of the Farmstead here

See "Then & Now" comparison photos here

 

Timeline for Maasdam Barns Property

1852 - Although not the first owner, John C. Rickey was the first to inhabit the property.  It will become the future home of the Maasdam Barns.

1870 - The farm is purchased by Beverly (male) B. Bower.

1875 - The farm is purchased by R.E. Jones.

1892 - The farm is purchased by L. L. Wilkins.

1905 - While living in Pella (Iowa), Jacob Maasdam partners with a childhood friend, Edward G. Wheeler, a veterinarian.

1906 - In January, Jacob Maasdam and his son William make their initial move to Jefferson County.  The two-day journey brings 47 Percheron horses and one Shetland pony from Pella to land overlooking Cedar Creek.  Located about 2 miles south of the Wilkins farm, they call their new place "Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm."

Later in 1906 - The Wilkins farm is purchased by Ellsworth Turney, whose company manufactures Charter Oak Wagons. Turney constructs a barn with stone and hand-hewn timber salvaged from a structure built by an earlier owner.  (After 1910, under Maasdam ownership, it will be called the Show Barn).

1910 - Jacob G. Maasdam expands his "Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm" with purchase of the Turney property.

Maasdam then builds the Mare and Stallion barns on this site.  The "Big House" is also constructed.  The old Richey house is later turned into an office.

1915 - Maasdam and Wheeler conduct their first sale of pure-bred Scotch Shorthorn Cattle.

1918 - Maasdam and Wheeler dissolve their partnership.

1919 - Maasdam's American-bred Percheron mare, Amoretta, is named World Champion at the International Livestock Show in Chicago, Illinois.

1931 - Maasdam and Wheeler resume their partnership doing business as the "Iowa Horse Importing Company."

1933 - The Maasdam home (the "Big House") burns down.  The family moves into the old Rickey House, which had served as the company office.

1935 - Louis d'Or, reportedly the world's largest Belgian, is imported by J.G. Maasdam & Son.

1945 - J.G. Maasdam ceases sales of horses.

1950 - The farm is purchased by Glenn Gorman.

1973 - Gorman's son-in-law, Ralph Leathers, purchases the farm.

2001-2005 - The Iowa DOT plans a new by-pass and purchases the Leathers farm.  A survey finds that a portion of the farmstead is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.  That portion of the farm is gifted to the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors.  Volunteers start restoration of the Stallion Barn.

2005 - The Maasdam Barns Preservation Committee is formed to oversee restoration and development of the farmstead, to restore it and open it to visitors.

2008 - The application for the 7.62-acre historic section of the Maasdam property to be placed onto the National Register of Historic Places is accepted as "The Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm Historic District."

2009 - A period-correct house is moved to the property for use as a Museum.

2011 - Restoration and upgrading continues with contractors and volunteers.  On Oct 8, 2011, an Open House was held.

Winter 2012
Click photo to see more Winter photos.

Sunset. Back to top
© 2009-2016 Maasdam Barns Preservation Committee. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written permission from the Maasdam Barns Preservation Committee.
Updated 09-23-16.

 

 

World's largest horse

 

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