• The Teeple Barn as it looked after the restoation of its cupola.

    Credit: City of Elgin

    The Teeple Barn as it looked after the restoation of its cupola.

Two days of strong winds toppled the historic Teeple Barn in Elgin, Ill., on May 25. Designed in 1885 by locally prominent architect W. Wright Abell, the 13,500-square-foot dairy barn utilized X-bracing to maintain the stability of its 80-foot tall structure. The building's unusual 16-sided configuration is thought to be a product of simple practicality—the lumber that original owner Lester Teeple had on hand wasn't long enough to construct an 85-foot diameter structure with the then-typical eight sides.

A nonprofit group named AgTech was formed in 1996 to renovate the structure and develop it as an educational facility focusing on the role of technology in agriculture. The group oversaw a $100,000 restoration of the building's cupola in 1999.

The Teeple Barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and drew additional attention when the White House and National Geographic magazine listed it in a 2000 preservation awareness project called “Saving America's Treasures.” Although grants of more than $300,000 were invested in repairs during recent years, it was estimated that as much as $1 million was needed to fully restore the building and safeguard its structural integrity.

  • The collapsed structure is beyond repair, but preservationists hope to salvage the cupola and other barn elements.

    The collapsed structure is beyond repair, but preservationists hope to salvage the cupola and other barn elements.

Nut-processing company John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc., which owns the barn, will work with AgTech to salvage as much of the structure as possible. “We're working together to see if we can save the cupola and any other lumber that is worth preserving,” AgTech president Bill Collins told the Chicago Tribune several days after the collapse.