Puhl / Bacon Barn

 

13151 E. Scott Road

Photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media

Joseph and Blanche Puhl and their two sons, Lloyd and Raymond, came to Palmer from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and they were one of the first three Colonist families to be self-supporting (others were Virgil Eckert and Walter Pippel), which came as a surprise to the managers, who had not expected any of the new settlers to be independent within fourteen months of arrival.

The Puhl’s unique round-log house is on the National Register of Historic Places. Unlike most of the Colony houses, it was built by the owners, with the assistance of other Colonists, during the summer of 1935. The Puhls dug their own well instead of waiting for the corporation well rig, which also helped to limit the Puhls’ indebtedness to the ARRC.

Joseph Puhl farm, date unknown (Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division HABS AK 13-PALM.V, 5-1)

Located on Tract 99 at what is now the corner of the Glenn Highway and Scott Road, the Puhl barn is also a departure from the standard Colony barn design by government architect David R. Williams. Like their neighbors and good friends the Eckerts, who selected tract no. 100, the Puhls built a smaller barrel-roofed barn (28’ x 32’), as compared to the standard 32’ x 32’ gambrel-roofed Colony barn.

Moved in 1958 

According to the book, Evaluation of Historic Sites in Palmer, Alaska, printed in September, 1988 by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Cultural Resources Division, “The barn originally stood on the northern end of the Puhl tract and had a first floor of log. Because it was built without a foundation, as was typical, the logs began deteriorating.

“In 1958 Dexter Bacon moved the barn to its present location and substituted a short concrete block wall and concrete slab floor. The laminated ribs now rest directly on the concrete block. The domed roof flares at the bottom. The barn is sided with drop siding and has fixed, six-pane windows. Large doors are located on either end. The building is currently used as a garage.”

A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve – or pair of curves, in the case of this barn’s pointed barrel vault roof – with the length being greater than its diameter.

The history of the property is also described in the Mat-Su Borough book: “In October 1942 the Puhls sold their land to Carl Wilson, who took over the Puhl’s obligation to the ARRC. In 1954 the Wilsons sold the land to Neil Miller, who later sold it to his daughter and son-in-law, Dexter and Priscilla Miller Bacon.”

As noted in the National Register of Historic Places listing, the house and property exhibit attention to detail and excellent care.

An interesting side note was a newspaper report in the Milwaukee Journal dated May 15, 1935 describing young Raymond Puhl, age 7, having contracted a mild case of measles and being completely segregated from the other passengers due to the contagious nature of the disease: “His sickness will not prevent his sailing Saturday…”

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