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Bringing back barns

Remodeling projects preserve rural heritage

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As urbanization claims farmland and transforms areas of our nation from once-rural roots, barns have increasingly become a symbol of our past rural heritage, and some aging structures have been renovated and repurposed for the new millennium by creative and resourceful folks seeking a unique living space. When Chris and Allen Elliott bought a barn in Washington state's Skagit Valley in 1991, it was probably only a couple of years from falling down -- and it might have if they hadn't stepped in. Allen, who estimates that the barn is about 90 years old now, says, "It was built by a crew who traveled from site to site, building the rafters on a jig on the hayloft floor and tipping them up. This was the space that sealed the deal for us." To preserve the original look, the Elliotts built a roof on top of the original structure that keeps the rafters exposed on the inside and the original shape on the exterior. The house is designed in such a way that the beautiful i...