A plan for Lake Lorraine's barn

An old barn on the Lake Lorraine property is being saved in order to repurpose the wood somewhere else within the Lake Lorraine development. Because the land it sits on will soon be developed into another retail site, the barn needed to be moved or demolished.

The current 130-acre parcel known today as Lake Lorraine was originally five different parcels of land that Warren Friessen acquired over 15 years. Part of the land included a farm, which featured a house and the existing barn. The house was torn down in 2015 when the road was built to get to the retail area on the east side of Lake Lorraine. Friessen Development, the developers of Lake Lorraine, initially saved the barn when the surrounding land was being readied with the intent to incorporate the barn into the development in some way. A Facebook post on the Lake Lorraine page in February 2018 asked the public to weigh in — and responses were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping it or restoring it in some way.

“It’s been a priority for our development project from the start to preserve and communicate the history in a meaningful way so the community can appreciate it,” said Patty Vognild, Vice President of Friessen Development. “Its unique history is one of the reasons Lake Lorraine is so special to the Friessen family and many long-term westside residents.”

Keeping the barn in its current state is complicated, however. The roof is bowing on one side, one of the second floor doors has fallen off and years ago, plywood was added to the foundation to reinforce rotting wood at its base. Inside, the structure is broken up by vertical beams that support the hayloft. Up a narrow staircase, the second floor showcases an open space with tall ceilings and exposed trusses shaped like a more traditional hoop barn; the exterior of the barn has an A-frame roof. Then there’s the challenge of moving the structure — because the lower portion is not strong, the overall structure could be damaged during the move; this could render it unsafe and unusable as a structure and potentially damage a large amount of the wood if the decision were made after the fact to use the wood in a repurposed structure.

“Originally, I felt strongly to keep the barn as it exists,” Vognild said. “After consulting with movers, architects and builders, it became obvious that to make this 80-year old structure meet modern day building codes to become usable could likely end in disaster. “

Kris Gagnon with Banking Barns of Hills, Minnesota, was hired by Friessen Development to reclaim the salvageable barnwood. Gagnon and his team started gently dismantling the barn by hand the week of Aug. 13. Before starting the project, Gagnon estimated that 75 to 80 percent of the wood could be saved and repurposed, though that estimate will evolve as they complete the work. Although the roof is bowing it has consistently had shingles and good coverage, which means the wood inside the barn has not been damaged by water or other elements.

Gagnon has taken down approximately 15 barn structures all across the region in the last five years; it’s a passion he’s developed. He commended Friessen Development for choosing to save the wood rather than simply tearing it down or attempting to move it and destroying the wood.

“It has a story and people care about it and this is the best solution,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon will band the savable wood and it will be stored. Friessen Development is working with local architectural and landscape design firm Confluence to design an updated structure to use as a community space within the Lake Lorraine development. The intent is to utilize as much of the existing barnwood as possible into the new structure — and to use the space to honor some of the historical aspects of the Lake Lorraine development and Friessen family’s contribution. Vognild said the intent is to thoughtfully use some of the beautiful wood to make new furnishings, keeping the old charm and history but in a practical, usable manner. 

“As we look to the future, we wanted to keep the history but to do it using a sustainable structure that has a long-term use — this will truly be a better gift to the community,” Vognild said. “We also plan to share some of the original barnwood pieces with families whose parents or grandparents resided on the homestead so they, too, can enjoy and preserve some of their personal family memories.”

The existing barn is also fairly small, measuring approximately 27 feet by 32 feet. The new structure will be larger and shaped differently in order to accommodate multiple purposes. Friessen Development will share plans and development timelines in the coming months.

Gagnon estimated it would take two to three weeks to reclaim the wood, barring any delays due to inclement weather. You can follow the process shared in photos on the Lake Lorraine Facebook and Instagram pages (@LakeLorraineSiouxFalls) or by visiting lakelorrainesiouxfalls.com.