LAKE CITY - What's old is new again at Gary and Luanne Redenius' 1920s-vintage barn, which is being recovered with distinctive cedar shingles.
"Our kids and I started shingling the west side eight years ago, and now we're finishing the job," said Gary Redenius, who has worked as a carpenter in the area for nearly 40 years.
Redenius used No. 1 cedar shingles from Canada.
-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Gary Redenius, right, and his son, Jeff Redenius, hammer new cedar shingles onto the east side of the family’s barn, which sits near the Calhoun Township/Jackson Township line.
Cedar shingles are sawn smooth on both faces and are distinguished by a neat, uniform finish that stands up to the elements. They don't come cheap, since they run $200 to $250 per square, compared to high-quality asphalt shingles, which cost about $85 per square.
With an approximate 50-year lifespan, Redenius said, cedar shingles are more durable than their asphalt counterparts, which tend to last about 30 years.
The cedar shingles represent a compromise for the family. While Redenius had considered covering the barn with steel, his wife encouraged him to use cedar shingles.
Redenius agreed, as long as the formerly white barn could be painted red. He credits their daughter, Lori, with painting the 32-foot-by-40-foot barn when she was in high school.
"This barn is a family project," he said.
Reflects Iowa history
While no one knows exactly when this Calhoun Township barn was built, Redenius suspects it was constructed around the same time that his house was built, circa 1920.
Located on the southern edge of Lake City's city limits, the acreage was established by J. J. Coady, of Lake City, who served as a Calhoun County supervisor when the iconic Rainbow Bridge was built south of town in 1914.
While the barn once contained a few milking stanchions, it appears to have been designed primarily as a horse barn, said Redenius. The barn sheltered hogs in later years, he said.
The barn features a poured concrete foundation that's similar to the foundation of the house on the acreage.
"You can tell by looking at it that the concrete was mixed by hand in those days," Redenius said.
That was also the era when wooden shingles were the material of choice for covering roofs on houses and barns.
"When I was growing up in Lake City, my dad kept wooden shingles on hand at the lumberyard for patching roofs," Redenius said. "When I started my construction business in 1974, some customers still wanted wood shingles."
There's an art to installing wood shingles, he said.
"You have to lap the seams at least an inch," Redenius said. There also needs to be about 1.5 inches between the sheathing so air can circulate and allow the shingles to dry.
"That's why plywood wouldn't work in a situation like this," Redenius said.
While Redenius and his son, Jeff Redenius, 24, were stapling some of the cedar shingles as they worked earlier this July, the shingles had to be nailed by hand in other areas of the roof.
"It can be pretty labor intensive," Gary Redenius said.
The effort is worthwhile, however, said Jeff Redenius, a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic. "I remember having a fort in the haymow and playing in the barn as a kid," said Jeff Redenius, who returned to Lake City to work on his family's barn shortly before his July 6 marriage.
"Working on the barn lets me spend quality time with Dad," he said.
The test of time
The Redenius barn's new cedar-shingle roof showcases the barn's location on one of the highest points in the area.
"From the top of this barn, you can see six grain elevators besides the one in Lake City, including Ralston, Lanesboro, Glidden, Yetter, Ulmer and Lidderdale," Gary Redenius said. "On a clear day you can even see the church steeple in Mount Carmel."
Ensuring a watertight roof is a key maintenance task for anyone who wants to preserve their barn, said Redenius, who uses it to store his construction supplies. "This sturdy barn has stood the test of time, and we want it to last many more years."