ROUND BARNS, URBANA
The three round barns sit atop a low hill rising behind the Vet Med Building on the south campus. “Hill” may be an exaggeration; it’s more like a slight elevation in the land. But, even a small rise is noticeable and noteworthy here, in flat central Illinois, slap-bang in the middle of the seemingly endless (and flat) plains and prairies. They stretch to the far horizon and very little breaks the eye’s gaze. Farmhouses appear like small blips in the fields, and the wide expanse of land and the huge open sky dwarf even the groups of grain elevators.
Back to the round barns. Tall, stately, white-washed, these historic landmarks gaze down on rolling fenced fields, which to the south and west are cultivated with experimental corn in the growing season. To the north lie a large paddock—horses grazing under the few trees—and huge velvety green soccer fields, very active at weekends.
Around Illinois now you will seldom find a traditional round barn, so these barns have become rather special symbols of a time past. Nowadays, typical red, boxy barns dot the farmlands.
Few people visit the round barns really, except those interested in historical architecture, but I walk past them almost daily and watch them, unchanging, in the changing days and seasons. At sunset, the barns on their hill rise like a fat silhouette before the painted sky. At dawn mist wreathes them.