Two local historic structures landmarked

THE TOWN OF Rhine Lime Kiln structures (left) and the Rudolph Lueder 13-sided barn in the town of Plymouth (right) have both been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wisconsin Historical Society has announced. — Submitted photos THE TOWN OF Rhine Lime Kiln structures (left) and the Rudolph Lueder 13-sided barn in the town of Plymouth (right) have both been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wisconsin Historical Society has announced. — Submitted photos The Wisconsin Historical Society has announced the listing of two structures in western Sheboygan County on the National Register of Historic Places.

The designations were granted to the Sheboygan Valley Land and Lime Company in the town of Rhine and the Rudolph Lueder 13-Sided Barn in the town of Plymouth.

National Register designation provides access to certain benefits, including qualification for grants and for rehabilitation income tax credits, while it does not restrict private property owners in the use of their property.

In 1911, the Sheboygan Valley Land and Lime Company was organized to finance and promote the drainage of the Sheboygan Marsh so that it could sell the highly fertile reclaimed land for agricultural use. To this end, the company established a lime producing facility that would use the tamarack trees growing throughout the marsh as fuel and, in doing so, would clear the marshland for future development. The site contained a lime kiln complex, an office building, a blacksmith shop, and a quarry, and was supported by a spur line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad.

The Sheboygan Valley Land and Lime Company employed 35 to 40 men working at the quarry and kilns and 75 to 150 men working in its wood cutting camps. The majority of quarry workers were Italian, Russian, Austrian, and Finnish immigrants who lived in company owned cabins and a boarding house in the adjacent community of Rhine Mills. Wood cutting crews consisted of area farmers, lumbermen from northern Wisconsin, and transient workers. As the lime production side of the Sheboygan Valley Land and Lime Company flourished, its plans for developing the adjacent marshland were less successful. Although it succeeded in draining the marsh, the low price of farmland after World War I eliminated the demand for this new virgin soil, and the marsh was re-flooded by the county in the late 1920s.

Following World War I, the nationwide demand for lime decreased rapidly as new products replaced it in the construction industry and Wisconsin lime was found to be unsuitable for many other uses. In 1920, the Garden City Land and Lime Company purchased the site and continued to operate the kilns for the next six years. Finally, in 1926, the kilns were shut down. The site lay vacant until 1963 when it was purchased by the Quasius family who converted it to a private residence and art studio.

Round barns are distinctive for many reasons; most obviously their round shape, but these barns also represent a period of experimentation in agriculture at the turn of the twentieth century. The centric shape is an exploration in efficiency.

Adolph Suhrke, along with a fourteenman crew of carpenters and laborers, constructed the Lueder Barn over the course of two years, from 1915 to 1916. Most of the wood used in construction was obtained from oak, elm, and tamarack trees on the property. Boards and flooring were recycled from an existing dairy barn on the Lueder farm that was torn down simultaneous to the construction of the new 13-sided barn.

In 1916, when the barn was completed, it incorporated a number of advanced twentieth century building techniques including the incorporation of an air circulation system that would naturally pull cool air in from the base and draw it up to ventilate out the large cupola at the top. Another innovative design element is the thick, double-brick wall with an integrated airspace. This detail serves to insulate the lower level of the barn, making it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

The geometry of the building is unique, with twelve equal sides, all roughly matching one another, and a thirteenth side, longer than the others, for use as the main upper level barn door. The scale itself is notable, with a roof spanning 85 feet and towering over 68 feet high with a large silo enclosed. The barn could hold 48 cows in stanchions in the lower level and enough hay and feed for all of them simultaneously.

The Rudolph Lueder 13-Sided Barn is a unique example of the polygonal barn type, maintains a high level of integrity, and incorporates rare attributes such as its scale, utilization of advanced building tech- nologies, and its odd-numbered sides that make it remarkable compared to other local round barns in Wisconsin. Perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of the Lueder Barn is that it is one of the last centric barns in the state of Wisconsin that is still used for its original purpose as a dairy barn.

Centric barns are becoming rarer and are significant to the history of agricultural architecture in Wisconsin, especially in the context of vernacular round barn building traditions.

This listing recognizes a unique period of Wisconsin’s agricultural heritage.

The Fuldner Heritage Fund paid for the preparation of this nomination. This endowed fund, created through a generous donation by the Jeffris Family Foundation and administered by the Wisconsin Historical Society, supports the nomination of historically and architecturally significant rural and small town properties.

The register is the official national list of historic properties in America deemed worthy of preservation and is maintained by the National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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