Replacement for landmark De Soto barn starting to rise

This Saturday, De Soto residents will see with their own eyes efforts to rebuild what was once a community landmark, the Zimmerman Barn at Kill Creek Farm.

Powerful winds in a severe rainstorm in May 2010 blew the barn down, leaving a hole in the community and a few couples without a place to get married that following June.

“Some people asked when we planned to rebuild and if they could reschedule their wedding for next year,” said Darrel Zimmerman, former owner of the barn that overlooked Kansas 10 off the Kill Creek exit.

The soon-to-be newlyweds were not the only ones wondering about the barn’s future. The Zimmerman Barn at Kill Creek Farm served as a rural community center, hosting a farmers market, an annual art festival and business meetings.

The barn served as a special place for many residents, which is why “literally hundreds” of people came out to help clean up the day after the barn was blown down, Zimmerman said.

“When all those people showed up, it wasn’t a matter of if we were going to rebuild the barn, it was a matter of when,” he said.

Zimmerman formed a not-for-profit called The Barn at Zimmerman’s Kill Creek Farm, which is now in charge of building the new barn. He worked out a lease on the land with the association and donated the insurance money received for the old barn. Now, fellow board members must come up with $300,000 to complete the project.

With the association in control, the board members’ goal is to make the barn more of a facet in the community. The board’s mission is to maintain the rural heritage of Johnson County and provide a site for agricultural-related activities.

As of now, the concrete foundation for the new barn has set and by today, the frame and roof will be raised. The siding, raft floors and a modernized lean-to will come next as funding becomes available.

Without a newspaper in town, communication has been a problem. Questions of whether Zimmerman would rebuild floated around the city, said Lori Murdock, president of the board.

“Getting the barn back puts a landmark back in De Soto, which is needed in small towns like ours,” she said. “This will be a showcase that this is actually going to happen. Saturday will be a time that will tell people what we have planned, and what we need from our community,”

Residents are invited to come to the farm from 10 a.m. to noon for coffee, hot cider and cookies. Rather than take out a loan, Zimmerman hopes individuals and businesses will come to the barn and find out how they can get involved.

“We’re out of funds. We hope people will step up and help out,” he said. “And I might bring my goat around to pet.”