October 26, 2010

Built: Barn Cupolas

I've been passing this small structure by the side of the road for years now. It sits there with its pointed hat topped by a moss covered wand, like something out of a fairy tale. I had assumed it was a cupola from a long vanished barn, but when I stopped today to get a closer look, and a photo, I wondered at its flat bottom; how would it have perched on the roof? and why did it have that door?

A half mile down the road, I got my answer: there had been an additional structure added to set the cupola on the slant of roof, and this one had windows instead of a door. I stopped to chat with the farmer, who spread his hands wide to show me the size of the cow atop the weathervane, perhaps 3 feet; quite a beautiful thing, with what look like two crows perched beneath the cow.

I wonder at the feelings of the people who left that cupola sitting in the high grass; could it be a memento, a memory of a building sadly lost? or a humorous addition to their everyday view?


  1. I am thrilled you stopped to look at the building. I always thought it might have covered a well or something. Where you able to look inside?

  2. No, I didn't try to open that enticing small door.

  3. This is a lot like in fairy tale illustrations, indeed. I wonder what lies behind the door. It's fascinating to come across this somewhat cupola thing during a road trip. That cupola perched on the slant roof is a nice sight. And of course, what's a cupola without the nifty weather vane? =)

  4. Thanks for the more details, FOML. It’s exciting that most of the old barns in Madison do not have cupolas. Probably because these mature barns are not as limited and let in more air through the edges, which kept the hay chilly.