Arndt/Swift Barn

The Arndt barn still stands alongside the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. (photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media)

The Arndt barn still stands alongside the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. (photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media)

The Lawrence Arndt family came to Alaska from Wisconsin, and Mr. Arndt drew tract number 190, on what was then called the Wasilla-Finger Lake-Palmer Road, today known as the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. The 1940 census showed Mr. Arndt living with his wife Etta, their 18-year-old daughter Helen; his mother Emma Arndt, and three male lodgers: Edward Church, and Glenn and Rollo Kinty. 

The unusual Arndt barn was one of the handful of barns which had a soaring vaulted roof design, with a high ridge peak, quite different from the standard 32′ x 32′ gambrel roof design of most of the Colonist’s barns. Also known as the curved or Gothic roof, the curvature was built up of boards bent to the desired radius and nailed together to provide adequate strength to support the huge roof structure. Like the standard Colony barns, the bottom section was built with three-sided logs, set on spruce pilings. The inside of the barn was partitioned into areas of various sizes, and a storeroom under the steep stairwell which accessed the hayloft.

Inside the Arndt barn (photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media)

Inside the Arndt barn (photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media)

The Manuska-Susitna Borough’s 1985 book, Knik Matanuska Susitna: A Visual History of the Valleys, noted: “The Lawrence Arndt colony farm has been familiar to Valley residents for years as Arabian Acres where owners Robert and Gladys Swift raised purebred Morgan horses. The colony barn was especially designed like the Monroe, Eckert, and Puhl barns, with a high vaulted roof that varied from the standard colony gambrel. During the colony era, the Arndt house was the site of the neighborhood telephone.”

Kathy (Roark) Laing, who lived for several years on the adjoining farm with a similar vault roofed barn, wrote that she remembered there being “…three farms in a row…”    ~•~

 

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