Tornado claimed 120-year-old Madison County barn

BEFORE THE TORNADO: This barn on Markley Road was built in 1904 and was still in use as of last month.

(Posted March 13, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

One of Madison County’s iconic barns was among the structures lost in the tornado/storm event that swept through the county on the morning of Feb. 28.

Located on Markley Road, southwest of Summerford, the two-story, German-style bank barn had stood for 120 years, its original name and construction date, “Diamond Rock Stock Farm 1904,” emblazoned on its slate roof.

“At 5:03 a.m. (on Feb. 28), my wife and I headed to the basement and heard the tornado,” said John Mitchell who, with his wife, Joanna, has owned the barn as part of their farm since 2000.

(AFTER) The tornado/storm event that swept through the county on Feb. 28 flattened the barn. The owners, John and Joanna Mitchell, are salvaging what they can to use elsewhere on their farm.

After the storm passed, John grabbed a flashlight and made his way to the barn only to see that it had been flattened.

“I wanted to cry,” he said, adding that several friends and neighbors later told him they, too, were in tears over the loss. “A lot of people knew this barn because it wasn’t just your basic barn.”

Madison County historical records show that Daniel Lucy built the barn in 1904 for use in his market hog operation. Later in its life, the barn was used for a dairy operation. There’s a good chance the barn’s timbers were cut from the farm, John said, and he has had modern day repair experts tell him the roof’s original slate likely came from Vermont by way of train and horse-and-wagon.

The Mitchells acquired the barn when they purchased the farm next to theirs. At the time, the barn’s walls were pushing out, the floor was suffering from rot, and the roof had lost some of its slate. The couple wasted little time in hiring professionals to shore up the barn and return the roof to its original glory. Up until last month’s tornado, they had used the barn primarily for storage.

While they are saddened by the barn’s demise, the Mitchells said they feel fortunate things weren’t worse.

“We are so lucky. Our house could’ve been hit,” John said.

They have salvaged what they could from the barn with the intent of repurposing the materials elsewhere on the farm.

“We will try to use the slate and timbers. We don’t want to waste them,” John said.

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