ARCADIA – A free hot dog meal, live music, vintage cars, and games for the kids are on tap as the Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society celebrates the 30th anniversary of the restoration of the Arcadia Round Barn.
The open house is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 10, and will include a 2 p.m. welcome ceremony to introduce special guests including descendants of barn restorer Luke Robison and barn builders William Odor and J.H. Keely.
Darren Robison, 56, of Midwest City, was a teenager when his “Granddaddy” Luke Robison and fellow retired carpenters undertook the restoration of the barn, which had fallen into disrepair and had been transferred from private ownership to that of the historical society. As a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, he drove from Edmond to help with the repairs.
“We jacked up the barn with massive 30-ton jacks just to get it level,” Darren Robison recalled.
Eventually the workers were faced with the job of tying together the rafters in the massive domed roof, which had collapsed before the restoration began.
“He had built a scaffold 36 feet above the second floor, which was way up there,” Darren Robison said of Luke Robison, who died in 1997. “It was scary. We worked on the rafters a week or more just to get them all tied together.”
Live music, vintage cars, food and games.
Ceremony at 2 p.m.
The barn was built in 1898 on Odor’s farm. The town of Arcadia was founded by Odor and other landowners in 1902 after the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad was built to the south of the barn. A dirt road designated as State Highway 7 was built between the barn and the railroad tracks in 1914, and in 1926 the still-unpaved road became U.S. Highway 66.
The Round Barn became a point of interest as people began to travel Route 66 from Illinois to California. U.S. 66 was replaced by interstates and officially removed from the national highway system in 1985, and the Oklahoma stretch on which the Round Barn rests is now State Highway 66.
Route 66 enthusiasts are making the pilgrimage from Chicago to Santa Monica in increasing numbers, and more than 30,000 people annually visit the Round Barn, which has been a museum since the restoration was completed in April 1992. The barn hosts live music offered every weekend, and the loft is frequently rented for weddings and other social functions.
The barn is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is free, but donations are accepted for maintenance of the barn and grounds. For more information about the open house, call 405-396-2286.
Photo caption: This photo of Luke Robison working on the Arcadia Round Barn restoration in 1990 is part of the Jim Argo Collection and was provided by the Oklahoma Historical Society.