Fire destroys nostalgic barn

Wanda English Burnett

As David Koger sadly watched firefighters deal with the fire that consumed his barn, he reminisced about how it came to be on the property at 3349 W US 50, Holton.

Holton firemen were called to the scene before 7 a.m. Sunday, December 6 where they found the barn total engulfed. They were assisted at the scene by Versailles and Osgood fire departments.

“My brother and I built that barn when we were in high school,” Koger noted as he watched the firemen make sure the flames were completely extinguished in the all wood barn that contained hay, some equipment and a mother dog and her pups. Everything was a total loss.

Koger said he and his brother, Doug, took the barn down from a residence located where the Versailles Garden and Supply Store is now. He said it was given to them and they took it down board by board and then reassembled it. The barn had heavy wooden beams that were secured with wooden pins.

Painted on one side was Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco Treat Yourself to the Best, which used to be a popular scene that dotted the rural landscape. The barn was the topic of conversation from that advertisement and was even captured by an artist, who submitted the painting to Koger. “We just completely restored the barn as it was when we took it down,” Koger noted.

When the Koger brothers built the barn, they were just teenagers, and David remembers finishing nailing down the metal roof on Christmas break in 1978 with snow swirling around them.

When Koger noticed the fire it was already too late for the historic barn to be saved. However, he did jump into a nearby dump truck and drove it away from the blazing barn. While it sustained damage, Koger was thankful, saying it could be repaired. There was also other equipment on the south side of the barn that was saved, as well as another pole barn type structure located near the older barn.

According to Holton Fire Chief Tony Franklin the cause of the fire was undetermined as of press time. He noted there wasn’t a damage estimate, but that the barn and contents were a “total loss.”
No one was injured in the fire.

A totally restored wood barn depicted in the painting above, was completely destroyed by fire Sunday morning as firefighters from three departments managed to save another pole barn located beside it. David Koger, owner of the property, looked on as firemen made sure the remaining rubble did not re-ignite. Only a few charred remains of equipment and pieces of tin were left.