The Ruhland Barn is a special kind of forebay barn, unusual in the United States and rare in Wisconsin. More typically, these Germanic barns feature a projecting second story (overshot), either cantilevered or supported by wooden posts. Much like a porch, the overshot shelters the doors leading to the basement, where the cattle live. Compared to those forebays, this one is integrated more clearly into the structure and completely enclosed. The barn and its forebay are built entirely of fieldstone. Two segmental-arched openings create something like a loggia at the forebay’s lower story. More unusual is the placement of the forebay at one of the gable ends, instead of parallel to the ridge. This allowed the Ruhlands to incorporate a sliding door into the side elevation, so they could drive a wagon directly into the upper-level hayloft by way of an earthen ramp. Arrow-loop-like slits along the gable end helped ventilate the loft. The barn has undergone minor changes: originally a single window opened between the two arches, but now a rectangular doorway provides an additional entrance, and the stone gable end has been covered by wooden siding.
Some architectural historians and geographers have suggested that immigrants directly imported the basic design from Pomerania; others have hypothesized that it developed in Pennsylvania, where examples are more abundant, based on Swiss antecedents. Adam Ruhland, however, was the Wisconsin-born son of Bavarian immigrants, while his wife Catharine came from Lorraine, a French province.