The J.C. Adams Stone Barn has been a staple in the Sun River Valley for quite awhile.
Rancher J.C. Adams had it completed in 1885, making it older than the state of Montana (1889). With its large size and Romanesque Revival stone architecture, it’s said to be the only barn of its kind west of the Mississippi River.
"He built the barn mainly to provide horses and cattle to Fort Shaw, which was going strong at that point in time. He came from Kentucky. That's part of the reason why he built such a beautiful big old barn, made it out of stone, so it was going to stay here for a long time,” said Robert Mildford, president of the J.C. Adams Stone Barn Company. "I noticed the barn almost the first time I drove by it. It just jumps out at you."
The barn fell out of private use in 1979, and it’s been registered as a National Historic Place since then. It’s seen numerous restoration efforts over the last four decades, and this week, the most recent one is finishing up. A $10,000 grant from the Montana History Foundation has helped with new red paint for all the exterior wooden surfaces, plus restored window panes and other work.
"It's been wonderful, actually. Overwhelming in the sense that planning, the weather, the subcontractors, the supplies and everything's kind of late coming in. But it all came together. So it went really smooth actually,” said project manager Shelly Walker.
In its heyday, the barn even hosted roller skate parties and dances for valley people up in the hay loft. Its unique stone build, location, and style make it worth every effort.
"The alternative is not being here any longer and you know, as it deteriorates, it's just kind of an eyesore, so raising the money to make this happen and/or getting a grant to do it is just so important for everybody in in this area, as well as the families that live here,” Walker said. “It's neat history and a lot of fun memories for everybody.
The J.C. Adams Stone Barn Company is always looking for more help, and you can find more information on their website.