A Swartzentruber Amish Barn-Raising (11 Photos)

Jim Halverson checks in with a photo set from a Swartzentruber Amish barn-raising. This took place back in the summer as should be obvious from these photos.

If you missed it, we recently took a closer look at the Amish barn-raising via Burton Buller’s excellent film The Amish Barn-Raising Day. In it, we see footage of two separate barn-raisings (in Ohio and in Pennsylvania), done using different methods.

The community shown here is in Gladwin and Clare County, Michigan. Jim notes that the area is home to at least three separate Amish communities, including in neighboring Clare County.

More on this community from Amish & Mennonite Settlements of America

Let’s have a look at these beautiful shots of a traditional Amish practice that not only builds a barn, but also builds community.

As noted in Buller’s film, Amish women also take an important role in the barn-raising, preparing food for hungry workers. Below it looks to me that they might be taking their own turn for lunch…

…while the men stay at it on the barn. We missed the earlier stages of this barn going up, which no doubt got its start in the early morning hours.

Here’s a wonderful shot taken from another angle.

Zooming in shows what looks like a discussion at ground level.

While up above a team stays busy. Agility and balance are important when you are up there, which is why you tend to see younger guys doing these higher up tasks. Older men will take jobs on the ground, like cutting boards to size.

Someone’s hat rests perched on an Amish vehicle.

After taking the above photos, Jim attended an Amish auction. Afterwards, he returned to the scene of the barn-raising to find the workers gone, having left behind a fully-enclosed structure.

Additional tasks remain, like adding doors and painting the barn the classic shade of Swartzentruber red. But the bulk of the work is done.

On the porch there, is that the owner of this new barn, “proudly” looking on? “Proud” might not be the right word, but no doubt it is satisfying and rewarding to look at your new barn, built with the full support of your church community.

As mentioned in the Buller film, it would be extremely difficult for the average person to pay back the men for the labor needed in construction of one of these barns. If you’re a part of an Amish community, you don’t have to do that. But you’re also expected to contribute when needs arise with other community members.

Thanks to Jim for the great photos. Read more on the barn raising practice among Amish, or check out the Burton Buller documentary.

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    1. Interesting sight!

      I was wondering if they would do the same to a home if it had a fire or had extensive damage for some reason. They are true hard workers and very skilled doing such a project in so short a time.

      1. Ann of Ohio

        Emergency help

        I have read in many places that they do help rebuild after any kind of sudden disaster, same as they help when someone is taken sick.

        1. J.O.B.

          Good size barn. Any chance someone may know the size/dimensions of this barn? Possible pictures of inside a similarly built barn as this one?

    2. Jerry


      This past year I attended three auctions on Nebraska Order farms in the Big Valley and noted that three of these farms had the exact same barn. They appeared to be about 20 years old. I suspect there are plans out there with dimensions and material requirements used by the builders.

    3. Cooperation

      Just think what we English might be able to accomplish if we were to decide to cooperate with other English in some task. It wouldn’t necessarily need to be barn building; just cooperate in making sure everyone is assured of having enough to eat, or everyone has access to decent health care, and a proper place to live. I guess that’s asking too much, greed being the most important thing by those in charge. One can always dream!

      1. Community has to be real

        People might find this interesting: I think the woman who wrote it is an ex-Amish Mennonite: https://dorcassmucker.blogspot.com/2018/02/lfh-thoughts-while-canning-sausage.html

        I really don’t think it is as simple as greed: the barn-raising sort of thing is the result of real mutual community investment. It is an outcome of the overall lifestyle choice, and not something that it is possible to produce artificially. These people are committed long-term to each other and to the lifestyle that is being supported by this sort of project, with a formal community structure.

        Compelling other people to provide from a top-down direction, might be right in some circumstances* but will never produce the same reality as the genuine mutual aid of a family or a real, human-relationship formed community.

        *I would argue that a highly regulated society is actually obliged to provide, because it is the regulations that prevent people for providing for themselves. For example, in my country, building is very tightly regulated. We have a dense population and that is probably the least of the evils for everyone; uncontrolled building would be get impossible very fast. But I would argue that, in return, this means we are straightforwardly obliged to provide, as justice, not charity, for anyone who is without housing, because we the rest of the society are refusing to allow them to put up a turf or bottle shack on some piece of unused ground. Those who gain from the restriction, must pay for what is needed by those who lose from it.

    4. Bert


      ive watched barn raising in wisconsin also pole sheds going up which are like barns but for different purposes

    5. Guy in Ohio

      I think it would be so cool to be able to watch an Amish barn raising in person!

      1. Terry

        Guy in Idaho

        Yes it would

    6. Linda

      Barn raising

      I live in Gladwin County Michigan. My husband drives for the Amish and we have become friends with many. I’ve not seen a barn raising but have seen many structures they have built beautifully.

    7. Edward Bunch Sr

      Looking for Amish crew

      I’m looking for a Amish building crew to build a 40×40 structure in Des Moines Iowa

    8. I truly admire the hard work the Amish do. Also the closeness of so many to do the job.
      And I did not see power tools. Wonderful example.