Clearly, horses were essential to the development and operation of the Institution from the beginning. There is no record of a barn being built specifically for horses until 1870, however. Photographs suggest that some of the early structures were probably used for horses as well as cattle.
First Horse Barn, 1870-1900
The need for the first building designated as a horse stable was endorsed by the Iowa State College trustees as early as 1868 and an appropriation of $2,500 was made by the legislature the same year. Construction was not started until 1870, however. The barn was 30 x 40 feet with loft and basement and built of brick. Apparently, design and construction were accomplished by College employees in that no architect or contractor are noted in records. This barn was razed in 1900 and replaced with a brick structure that would serve as the horse barn until it was remodeled in 1930-1931 for use by the Landscape Architecture Department.
Horse Barn (Landscape Architecture), 1931 to present. Livestock Judging Pavilion, 1900-1930 (Shattuck Theater, 1930-1979)
The Iowa General Assembly appropriated $12,000 in 1900 for the construction of a new horse barn and a livestock judging pavilion. The architecture firm of Liebbe, Nourse and Rassmussen of Des Moines was employed for design and Main and McKee was general contractor for the two units. The horse barn was constructed of brick and was characterized by creative and interesting architectural detail. The gabled roof included handsome dormers with windows and an exquisite, towering ventilation cupola. The gable ends of the roof reflected an effort to simulate a half-timber style. Details relative to the adjacent livestock pavilion are presented below under Judging Pavilions. The Horse Barn/Landscape Architecture building is still in use as a teaching facility by Landscape Architecture and other departments for offices and classrooms.
The Livestock Judging Pavilion later named Shattuck Theater was razed in 1979.
Horse Barn No. 2 (present main horse barn), 1923-1926 to present
This horse barn is the facility that most will recognize as the Iowa State Horse Barn. It is an architectural gem constructed of clay tile. The roof is gambrel style with turned up eaves. The roof is outfitted with handsome metal ventilators with lightning rods. The roof includes numerous gabled and shed dormers that accommodate ventilation windows and haymow doors. Proudfoot, Bird and Souers of Des Moines served as the architectural firm. The two wings designed to house animals were built in 1923; however, the name of the builder is not recorded. The center wing designed by Proudfoot, Souers and Rawson of Des Moines was constructed by E. B. Castle in 1926. This addition completed the U-shape design.
The interior of the building is largely original in both design and material. Numerous box stalls, tie stalls (some with original wood block floors), and group-housing stalls are included along with feed storage, office, and student rooms. The haymow covers the entire building. The center wing, originally built in 1926 to house machinery, is currently used for that purpose and also accommodates a breeding stall area and a room for an equine treadmill. The two outside wings provide the various stall types for horses. The U shape provides a courtyard that is utilized for demonstrations in training and equitation as well as general use in the equine teaching program. The building, while in largely original condition, is in a poor state of repair. Reroofing, restoration of wood trim, and complete repainting was accomplished last in the 1970's. A major restoration effort is needed soon to reverse the effects of continuing neglect.
Horse Barn No. 3 (present nutrition laboratory), 1927 to present
Horse Barn No. 3 was built in 1927. It was used as a horse barn until being remodeled in 1957 and again in 1989 for use in basic ruminant nutrition research. The building is constructed of clay tile with gambrel roof and shed dormers. While remodeling has closed some windows and altered entrances, the overall building remains intact and, generally, is in good repair. The barn was designed by Iowa State College Building and Grounds Department. Construction was by L. D. Anthony. The building is located adjacent to the main horse barn (Horse Barn No. 2) and the north end of the building faces the railroad tracks. This facade provided a surface for signage to inform passengers on the train about the area they were viewing. The sign, although a bit faded, is still visible as follows: "Iowa State College, Ames, Animal Husbandry Department, Horse Barn."
The barn is characterized by gambrel roof with handsome metal ventilators (embossed with the brand, MILCOR). Original weather vanes and lightning rods are now missing. Remodeling in 1957 was by James Thompson and Sons, that done in 1989 was designed by Durant Group, and the alterations to accommodate research programs were done by Story Construction.
Military Stables, 1925-1926 to 1998
Military stables were constructed on campus to house horses used in support of cavalry training. As many as one hundred horses were used to support these programs at any point in time. Two military stables were constructed west of Horse Barn No. 2 near the railroad tracks. The north building, 35 x 130 feet in size, was designed by Proudfoot, Rawson and Souers of Des Moines and constructed by Netcott Bros. in 1925-1926. Roof style was gable type and walls were constructed of clay tile. The building was modified in 1955 and equipped for use as a physiology laboratory and later as an obstetrics laboratory by the College of Veterinary Medicine. The unit was razed in 1997 to make room for additional parking. A second military stable, similar in size and design, was located to the south of this unit and was later modified for use as a surgery area for the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Experiment Station Barn, 1902-1922
The Experiment Station Barn replaced an earlier building, designated the Iowa Agricultural College Experiment Barn, built in 1894 by Architects Nourse and Hallett and contractor Bisbee and Potter. This earlier building burned in 1902 along with an adjacent cattle barn. The new barn, designated Experiment Station Barn was a substantial building constructed of brick, had a gabled roof, and a clay tile silo 18 feet in diameter. The silo roof was of special interest in that it was of conical style reminiscent of tower roofs typically seen on a French chateaux. The building consisted of two floors and a loft and was built at a cost of $17,858.59. Location was on Wallace Road near the present south wing of the Physical Plant building. Design work was by Liebbe, Nourse and Rassmussen. H. W. Schleuter was the contractor. A lightning strike resulted in complete loss by fire in 1922.
Current Horse Barns
The horse program uses the old barns for a number of course activities including foaling mares and training young horses prior to going to sale. The Equine Learning Center (ELC) was built on the old dairy land. The farm is used for pasturing and housing horses. Once the inside is completed all breeding of mares will occur at ELC.