Description of Historic Place
Yuill Barn is located on Highway 236 in Old Barns, a few kilometres west of Truro, Nova Scotia. This octagonal, wood frame barn was built around 1896 and is still used today as part of an active farm property. The barn and footprint are included in the provincial designation.
The Yuill Barn is valued for its architecture as only one of two remaining octagonal barns built before 1914 left in Nova Scotia.
Built around 1886 by farmer Samuel James Kent, the design of the Yuill Barn was based on the principles of Orson Squire Fowler, a nineteenth century phrenologist and social activist. Fowler believed that buildings of round shape would contribute to the owner’s mental and emotional well being. It is believed that while travelling elsewhere in the province, Kent had seen the octagonal plan and decided to employ this form in a barn of his own.
In 1912, the property left the Kent family and went through several owners until Amos J. Yuill bought it in 1931 and it has since remained in the ownership of his descendants.
Originally, the cattle stalls were on the main floor, along the perimeter of the building. In the centre, and along one side, there was scaffolding which served as a hay mow. The Yuills moved the cattle stalls to the ground floor, beneath the barn. They also built small, one-storey additions at two corners. The main part of the barn could then be used for the storage of hay in its entirety. At one time there was a windmill, located on top of the lantern, which was used to pump water for the farm, and which was removed many years ago. The Yuill Barn is still currently used for farming purposes as part of a larger farm complex today.
The original image of the barn, with windmill and minus the corner additions and metal siding, must have been quite arresting for the unfamiliar traveller along the Old Barn Road. Even today, with these changes, the impact of seeing this large and uncommon architectural form in a country pasture remains strong and dramatic.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 43, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the Yuill Barn include:
- octagonal form and wood frame massing;
- vertical metal siding;
- lantern/cupola at its peak;
- location and use as part of a working farm property.