Barns celebrate area’s ag heritage
By LARRY KERSHNER
MANNING – For a $6 admission charge, visitors at Manning’s Heritage Park can take a self-guided tour of a former wealthy farmer’s operation from a century ago.
The centerpieces of the tour are a pair of barns – a hausbarn, originally built in 160 in Germany and moved to Manning, and the 1917 Leets/Hassler horse and dairy cattle structure, with room for community dances in the hayloft.
The Manning Heritage Park is at 12196 311th St. on the east end of Manning, just south of Iowa Highway 141.
According to information provided to the tourist, the bauernhaus, or hausbarn, was built in 1660 in the Schleswig-Holstein region in Germany.
It was brought over from the north German region in 1996.
Reassembly was completed in 1999. A dedication ceremony, attended by the original German owners who donated the barn, and German tradesmen who worked on it, was held in 2000. It was then opened to the public.
The hausbarn is a unique structure in that it consists of living quarters not only for the family – with bedrooms, sitting, dining and cooking areas – but also areas for housing livestock, farm equipment and feed.
Hausbarns were a common form of dwelling throughout several areas of Germany.
Many of the residents of Manning are descendants from this particular region.
Due to many years of political conflict and boundary changes in Europe, tourist information claims, the barn can boast it stood in Austria, Prussia, Denmark and Germany before it was dismantled and sent to Manning and preserved.
If this historic hausbarn could talk, it would tell stories of being governed by princes, dictators, a British occupation force and finally, a democracy.
It has survived state wars, tribal boundary disputes and two world wars.
Coming to Manning
LeRoy Dammann, of Manning, oversees maintenance in the park and sometimes provides tour guide service.
He said the barn stands in Manning as the result of a desire by his wife, Frieda Dammann, to have something that would help celebrate the town’s German heritage. She wanted a hausbarn and soon a hunt was on.
Through the efforts of a German liaison, the barn’s owners, Claus and Paula Hachman, donated the barn, which was in rough condition.
Dammann said the Hachmans wanted to express their appreciation for receiving CARE packages from the U.S. in post-World War II years.
Almost all of the reconstruction work was donated, Dammann said.
The main structure was reassembled under the direction of a German builder, Martin Hausen, with an apprentice and grandson, all from the Schleswig-Holstein region.
Germans artisans laid decorative brick in the north entrance, plus the walls and flooring.
An East German crew provided the roof thatching work.
Decorative bricks were salvaged from the original barn site and sent with the structure.
Bricks comprising the walls, a guide reads, are “Old Chicago” bricks. The floors are bricks salvaged from Manning’s former Main Street.
Throughout the year, it takes roughly 60 volunteers to keep the grounds maintained. Local students show up for spring and fall clean-up days, Dammann said.
The Leet/Hassler Farmstead, built in the mid- to late-1910s, is a preserved attraction that has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The farmstead is named after its two primary early owners – William A. Leet and Frederick H. Hassler.
It includes a well-preserved, braced-rafter gambrel-roofed barn built in 1917.
The builders’ names were Detlefsen and Thoms, under the direction of the owner Hassler.
The Hasslers often hosted barn dances in the hayloft.
The barn was used primarily for cattle and horses, as well as equipment storage.
Inside the barn are reminders of the Manning area’s ag history, including a potato shaker.
A sign reads that these devices were common since Manning was formerly a major potato producer and shipping point.
Cream separators, five stanchions and other dairy equipment, including a manure trolley, adorn the south side of the barn.
The north side was used for horses.
A unique feature in this barn for its time are floor drains. However, Dammann said he wasn’t certain where they drain to.
This particular farmstead reflects the wealth of its early owners and was once home to an award-winning herd of Poland China swine, Dammann said.
The farmstead includes a one-and-a-half-story craftsman-style bungalow with a three-bay garage, hog house, chicken house, scale house and boar house.
The house itself has retained excellent integrity throughout the years.
It has changed little since its early 20th century construction.
The original flooring, woodwork and decorative details are largely intact as are the plumbing and lighting fixtures.
All of the furniture is of the time period and the bedroom set in the carriage house is from the original owners.
Hours and tours
Manning Heritage Park is open from May 1 to Oct. 31. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Groups can schedule four hour tours, including catered meals. School tours can also be arranged by calling (712) 655-3131 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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