Starke Round Barn Historic Site-The Facts
The Starke Round Barn was built in 1902 and 1903 by the Conrad Starke family. This amazing barn is the largest of its type in the world. It is 130 feet in diameter, and the center silo is 65 feet high. With three levels, the barn contains over 40,000 square feet of space. The top level was for hay storage, the middle level for machinery and grain storage, and the basement was for livestock. The brick silo in the center was for feed storage.
Before coming to Webster County in Nebraska, the Starke Family had made their fortune in the Milwaukee area where they owned a line of tugboats among other various business interests around the Great Lakes. Sometime around 1880 Conrad Starke purchased 400 acres of land along the Republican River Valley thanks to encouragement from his wife Veronica’s brothers, Gottleib and Christian Rasser. Also from Milwaukee, the Rassers’s had homesteaded here in 1870 after serving during the Civil War.
The unique design of the barn’s framework is held together by tension and stress, not nails or pegs. The supporting timbers are 12″×12″ and were shipped to Nebraska by rail from the Great Lakes region.
Starke Farms was a successful dairy until the herd contracted tuberculosis in the early 1920’s. The court ordered the sale of the farm on the steps of the Webster County Courthouse at a foreclosure auction in 1929.
The farm was purchased by Walter and Will Rasser, nephews of Conrad Sr. and Veronica (Rasser) Starke. Today it is owned by descendants of the Rassers. Schedule a tour of the barn to see many of the original fixtures and learn more of the barn’s history.