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Davis Round Barn

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1903, Edward J. Parker. Fay Wood Rd., 0.5 miles east of U.S. 2

On New Years Day in 1867, Edward J. Parker, born in Quebec of Vermont parents, married Julia Adams of Grand Isle, and in 1892 he purchased her parents' one-hundred-and-thirty-acre farm on the island's east shore. In the 1890s Major Alexander Davis, a wealthy summer visitor, began purchasing land around Ladd's Point and hired Parker to manage his six-hundred-acre farm. At the major's request, and working with a team of at least eight carpenters, Parker erected this wood-frame true-round barn set on a concrete foundation. It is not only an island landmark, visible for miles, but is also Vermont's most elaborate remaining round barn due to its imposing two-story, slate-clad, double-pitched conical roof and tall circular cupola. As completed, it was a ground-stable bank barn, a type common in western Vermont, with a covered bridge that crossed into the massive circular hayloft with a twenty-foot silo centered beneath the cupola. The barn enabled Parker to expand the Davis dairy to seventy-five cows. Originally a milk room was located under the bridge, but Parker later added a small gabled milk house attached at the stable level.

Parker sent a photograph of the barn under construction and a description to Hoard's Dairyman, which published it in 1903. Most round barns built in Vermont, whether circular or polygonal, were based on the less complex designs published by Franklin H. King of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station beginning in 1890. Parker's double-pitched roof scheme, by contrast, indicates that he was acquainted with contemporary developments in round barn design in the Midwest, most likely the influential “Ideal Circular Barn” then being perfected by Benton Steele in Indiana. Parker may well have seen it during the seven years he spent as a traveling salesman of cream separators.

About 1985 the barn was converted to elderly housing with the addition of tall, narrow, paired sash windows added to light adjacent units.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Davis Round Barn", [Grand Isle, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 187-188.

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