Bill written by Rep. Bob Cherry aims to encourage owners to preserve historic barns

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HANCOCK COUNTY — Hidden gems mark six generations of family history on a farm owned by Brendon Hartnett of Fortville.

Two barns at the 1836 homestead could have been lost were it not for those who maintained them over the years. Sliding open the bright white door of his main barn, Hartnett unveils the intricate handiwork and wooden pegs that have held together the structure’s historic interior logs for more than 100 years.

And while the old barn has held plenty of sentimental value to the Fortville family, state lawmakers are now beginning to realize just how precious these structures are to Indiana’s agricultural landscape.

Two bills are advancing in the Indiana General Assembly that would waive property taxes on certain historic barns, putting more money into the pockets of their owners who could make preservations for generations to come.

“These older barns – they’re falling down,” said Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, who wrote one of the bills.

Cherry, a farmer himself, said barns built more than 75 years ago are functionally obsolete. Not big enough to hold modern-day equipment, it doesn’t make sense anymore to tax them when Hoosiers could be using the money toward new roofs or siding.

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