In 2001, I began transforming a 1940’s corncrib, on the homestead I grew up on and now reside, into my studio space. Old functional grain structures of this type are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These structures are treasured as a historical fixture of Iowa’s rural landscape. There is also a more significant driving force for my interest in the revitalization of this structure. My great-grandfather, Ernest A. Smith, built this solid building that has endured the test of time. For those who are unaware of how these structures were used, I will give a brief description. Before the inception of the standard metal grain bins, these structures held most of the grain that was produced here in the Midwest. The building was divided into three separate components; two individual sides of the crib were divided by a wall leaving a center isle, and one over-head grain compartment that was divided into an additional four bins. The center isle allowed for grain trucks to enter and receive grain from the above bins, while the two side bins that reached from ground to roof stored picked corn that was unshelled. When harvested, the grain was then unloaded onto an elevator that deposited the grain through a cupola which was centered on the peak of the roofline. The grain was directed to each individual bin by way of a rotating chute. Although many of these structures are no longer used for their intended purpose, corncribs still carry an enormous value for those who are willing to restore them for other valued intentions without changing their identity.


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