December 5, 2015
A Brief History
Before it became a research laboratory for the Quaker Oats Company, Tower View was a self-sustaining working farm that included livestock, gardens, a barn, silo, and numerous out buildings. Today, the barn and silo, both built in 1915, are the only structures that remain of the original farm. All other buildings were destroyed, sold off, or were unable to withstand the vagaries of time and weather.
Like other old barns that anchor the Midwestern landscape, the Tower View barn is part of the long and storied history of Minnesota agriculture.
The exterior walls are of board and batten construction, and the roof is traditional gambrel in design with original galvanized tin shakes. The interior is comprised of two floors. The ground level was originally fitted with stalls and stanchions for housing horses and milk cows. The second floor, with its evocative wood-beamed interior, acted as a haymow and contains a classically Midwestern gothic truss ceiling with timbered cross-bracing for support.
The adjacent silo is 45 feet high and 20 feet in diameter. Like the roof of Tower View's landmark water tower, the top of the silo is cone-shaped and enveloped with red clay tiles specially fired for the structure. With its walls of hand-made curved concrete bricks, all made on site in cast-iron molds by local craftsmen, the silo is arguably the most historically unique of all the buildings at Tower View. Unfortunately, due to the effects of nearly 100 years of weather, the silo is in a deteriorated state, and the renovation of this structure is best classified as ambitious.
The Barn Restoration Project has completed the final stage of the Anderson Center's efforts to restore the Tower View estate to its original grace and beauty.
The barn and silo have been restored, winterized, and utilized as an integrated, multi-use facility to enhance Anderson Center programs, earned income, and to offer educational opportunities for the community of Red Wing. The unique interior space has retained its original hand-hewn beam structure and its classically Midwestern hull-like ceiling, and is a handsome visual reminder of Tower View's storied past.
Renamed "The Anderson Center Performing Arts Loft," the barn doubles the Center's current exhibition space and allows the Center to offer larger, more comprehensive shows or to host separate exhibitions concurrently. With a seating capacity of 150-175 people, it will also be used for lectures, performances, recitals, workshops, classes, concerts, and other fine arts functions as well as act as an important studio workspace for the Center's international Artist Residency Program.
In addition, the Center is working closely with Red Wing's historic Sheldon Theatre to provide the community of Red Wing and the region of southeastern Minnesota with comprehensive performing arts education and developmental opportunities. As a venue for after-school and summer K-12 educational classes and programs in theater and dance performances, the barn will offer outstanding opportunities for area youth to reach their potential as well as for local and regional artists to share their imaginative landscapes.
"I'm thrilled by this project because it exemplifies so many of the
principles that define the mission of the National Trust. While the
preservation of buildings is deeply rooted in our desire for tangible
links to history, it is mostly about having the common sense to hold
onto well designed structures that have plenty of use left in them.
Saving places where important moments of everyday life, not just great moments from history, took place matters to people and revitalizes their communities. Transforming the barn and silo of Tower View Estate - a working farm, research laboratory for the Quaker Oats Company and family residence established nearly 100 years ago - into a multi-purpose community arts facility serving the Greater Red Wing Area embodies the full measure of the tenets of historic preservation."
- President Emeritus
National Trust for Historic Preservation