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The end of the barn

The barn behind Delva Jackson’s house was one of the few left in the Marshall city limits. But with a collapsed roof from this winter’s weather, its days are numbered.

March 25, 2010
By Deb Gau

MARSHALL - "I heard a noise that night. I looked out the window, and I didn't know what it was," Delva Jackson said.

It turned out the noise was the sound of the hundred year-old barn behind her house going out with a bang.

Barns used to be much more common sight in Marshall, when horses were the main form of transportation. But by the time the roof collapsed on Jackson's barn earlier this month, it was one of only a few left within city limits.

When Delva and her late husband Morris Jackson moved into their house on South 4th Street in 1960, she said there were three barns in the neighborhood, all in a row behind the houses. The neighbors' barns were torn down not long after, leaving just the wooden two-story structure in the Jacksons' back yard.

"I remember it used to have stalls for the horses," Jackson said. "There was a big hole, where they used to throw the hay down from the loft."

Jackson said her family wasn't sure how old the barn was, but research her son Blair Jackson did on the property suggested it was built before 1910, by the original owner of the house. The lower level of the barn was a combination stable and garage, with horse stalls on the east side and room for a carriage and tack on the west side. The upper level was a hay loft.

In the 1970's, she said, "We took the tack room out of the barn, because it wasn't doing us any good." They used the barn as a workshop and storage area instead. Later on, Jackson said, "We had it painted so it wouldn't look so tough."

Delva said Morris Jackson liked having the barn around.

"He was an old farmer," she said. The Jacksons' children used to play in the barn, too.

"They used to go up (in the loft) and play basketball. I think the hoop is still up there," Jackson said. "When my daughter was young, they had an old couch up there, and she would play house."

Jackson said she didn't know exactly what made the barn roof cave in - it could be weather damage, or age.

"Maybe something just fell out of the sky," she said.

Jackson said she thought some re-shingling work done on the barn in the late 1980s might have been a factor. She didn't realize it until after the work was already done, but "They did it with staples. They didn't use shingle nails." The barn roof would lose shingles in the wind, she said.

For now, Jackson said the barn is waiting until she can have someone tear it down. She had thought about advertising the barn wood, in case anyone wanted it.

One thing is for sure, she said. The place would be different without the barn.

"I already miss it. It's a part of the place," she said.



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