140-year-old Crystal Lake barn avoids demolition for time being

Demolition of the century-old barn at Hill Farm Park is approved by the Crystal Lake Park District board.

Plans to demolish a 140-year-old barn in Crystal Lake have been put on hold as the Crystal Lake Park District approves the hiring of an architecture firm to assess the building.

The Barlina barn at 705 Barlina Road was set to be demolished by the Crystal Lake Park District earlier this fall in order to renovate Hill Farm Park. Demolition was the only financially rational thing to do after efforts to repurpose the building, or even its wood, were unsuccessful, said Amy Olson, Crystal Lake Park District manager of park planning and development.

But after pushback from the Crystal Lake Historic Preservation Commission, the district started to look into ways to save the barn and keep the structure intact.

The park board voted unanimously to spend nearly $20,000 for an architectural firm specializing in historic preservation, Mcguire Igleski & Associates Inc., to assess the building’s structure and create historic documentation. Once those analyses are completed, the park district will decide how to move forward.

In order to keep the barn stable, Olson predicts repairs need to be done, including on the roof, foundation, beams and siding. A roof replacement and siding repairs are estimated to cost more than $200,000, Olson said at a previous meeting in March.

Crystal Lake resident Jim Heisler said he has a couple of private donors interested in helping preserve the barn. He said he is “very pleased” to see a piece of Crystal Lake history is preserved.

“This barn is so important to the history of Crystal Lake,” Heisler said. “It speaks so loudly.”

With some help from the McHenry County Historical Society, commission member Robert Wyman determined the barn was built in 1884 by a doctor named Lorenzo Lowell. The barn and surrounding farmland were bought by Ivan Hill in 1960. He named the farm “Barlina” after his three children: Barry, Lisa and Nina, according to the Crystal Lake Historical Society. The Barlina farm was donated to the park district in 1972.

Have a Question about this article?