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Heritage Barn Register

For information about the Heritage Barn Register program, contact: 

Michael Houser
State Architectural Historian 
(360) 890-2634

Created with the passage of Substitute HB 2115 in May of 2007, the Washington Heritage Barn Register commemorates barns as historically significant resources representing the agricultural, economic and cultural development of the State of Washington.

“Barns are a symbol of Washington’s agricultural heritage and are beautiful buildings in their own right,” said former Governor Chris Gregoire.  “The Heritage Barn register will support the efforts of the Washingtonians who own these barns to preserve and stabilize these icons of our history.”

Jerri Honeyford, Chair of the Barn Advisory Committee, which is overseeing the program noted that “Barns are such an important building for farmers and ranchers that often they were built before the home.  Ours was, and so was my parents.  Designation as a Washington Heritage Barn is a positive step forward in recognizing the role agricultural buildings have played in our history and for acknowledging the stewardship barn owners have provided over several generations.”

Western style Barn, Ellensburg - c. 1925In addition to honoring the significance of barns, the Heritage Barn Register provides the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP) with more complete information about Washington’s historic agricultural resources.  Despite their prevalence across the state, barns are significantly underrepresented in existing registers and surveys that acknowledge historic resources.  As of 2007, before the Heritage Barn Program started, “Less than 40 barns from Washington were included in the National Register of Historic Places,” noted Michael Houser, the state’s architectural historian responsible for administering the historic register programs for DAHP. “The Heritage Barn Register creates a new level of historic designation that will, we hope, ultimately provide a better understanding of the geographic distribution, style, construction type and history of barns across the state.”  The Heritage Barn Register has achieved this goal: to date there are over 700 designated Heritage Barns located throughout Washington's 39 counties.

In addition to creating the Heritage Barn Register, the Heritage Barn Preservation Initiative (regulated under RCW 27.34.400 & 410, .020) provided for:

  • Competitive matching grants to heritage barn owners throughout the state to support their efforts to preserve, stabilize and rehabilitate their barns; and
  • Established the Heritage Barn Advisory Committee to review grant applications and examine tax incentives and land use regulations that support barn preservation and use.

Dutch style barn, Whitman Co. - c.1930To be eligible for listing in the new Heritage Barn Register, barns must be over 50 years old and retain a significant degree of historic and architectural integrity.  Owners interested in seeking designation for their historic barns are asked to complete a nomination form and provide basic information about the property. 

Heritage Barn nominations have a rolling deadline.  Please submitt anytime and your nomination will be added to the next review round meeting. Those barns will be considered for designation at the next meeting of the Governor's Advisory Council and will be eligible to apply for the grant program when funds are available.  Subsequent nominations will be reviewed at proceeding ACHP meetings.

Listing on the Heritage Barn Register is strictly honorary in nature and offers no protection from demolition, nor requires review of alterations and/or changes in use.  Only barns listed on the Heritage Barn Register, or barns that have been previously listed on the State or National Register will be eligible for grant funding under HB 2115.

On October 24, 2012 the Heritage Barn Initiative received a Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The initiative was one of 22 award winners to be honored by the National Trust during its 2012 National Preservation Conference in Spokane. Washington

Periodically, we hear of salvage material from barns that have to be demolished.  While demolition is an unfortunate outcome, we work to see that as much material as possible is salvaged and made available for reuse in other historic barns. If you own a designated Heritage Barn or a barn eligible for designation as a Heritage Barn, you may be able to request salvage material for use in your own barn rehabilitation project. Salvage material is free of charge, although recipients of salvage material are responsible for transportation costs. Such material is typically handled through the WA Trust for Historic Preservation, whom also manages the Barn Grant Program for DAHP.

Heritage Barn Documents:


Technical Information:

Context Studies:

Listed Heritage Barns:

Send your completed Heritage Barn form to:

CO: Michael Houser
1110 S. Capitol Way, Suite 30
Olympia, WA  98501

Note DAHP has contracted out the grant protion of the Heritage BarnProgram to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.  Please contact contact the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation at (206) 624-9449 or via email at if you would like more about the grant program. 

Could Your Barn Qualify for Historical Designation?

A barn should retain its original materials and appearance from the time of its importance. Generally the replacement of an original cedar shingle roof with standing seem metal, does not disqualify a barn from listing.  However changes in window and door openings, as well as newer siding (which covers or replaces the original siding) and additions most likely disqualifies a property from listing.

To know if a particular barn might be eligible for consideration, you might ask the following general questions as a starting point:

  1. Is the barn over 50 years old (built before 1973)?
  2. Is the barn exceptionally large (over 40 feet wide and over 60 feet long, not counting wings or sheds)?
  3. Was it built with unusual building materials, or common materials. Or does it represent a know style/type?
  4. Is it an unusual shape (not rectangular or L-shaped, but square, octagon, round, or U-shaped), or is it common?
  5. Was the barn the site where the first of a new breed of cattle or other livestock that was introduced in this region or state?
  6. Did an important event (such as a farm protest meeting) take place there?
  7. Did an eminent agriculturist work there?
  8. Was the barn publicized as a model for new barn equipment, prefabrication, or innovative construction techniques?
  9. Was it built in accord with blueprint plans that still survive?
  10. Is the barn an example of a design that was featured in a particular sub region or area?
  11. Was the barn built by a known master barn builder?
  12. Does the barn have an unusual design (architectural form, decoration, embellishments).
  13. Does the property have other structures such as a dwelling, silo, outhouse, chicken coop, etc... which date to the same era as the barn?

Heritage Barn Markers

When funding allows, barns that are added to the Washington State Heritage Barn Register receive a free 10" x 24" custom metal plaque.  The plaque, made by the Department of Corrections in Walla Walla, commorates the listing of the barn and allows for a form of public education by displaying the built date of each barn.

For further information about the Heritage Barn Program contact Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian at (360) 890-2634 or