The Dougan Round Barn in Beloit, Wisconsin

Marcia Rubin

Chagrin Falls, United States

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Artist's Description

This is the “Dougan round barn” located in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Round barns are also referred to as “Centric Barns”
This barn has been is listed in the national registry of historic buildings.
This is by far the most incredibly unique barn that I have ever seen!!!! I had no idea there was even such a thing as a round barn!
More Info
This National Register true-round barn was built by Mark Twain Kellor in 1911 for Wesson J. Dougan’s dairy operation near Beloit, WI..
“Daddy Dougan” (1868-1949), as he was called locally, was an ordained Methodist minister who after suffering a hearing loss became a dairyman in 1906. His slogan “The Baby’s Milkman” lettered on his milk delivery wagons were long a fixture on the streets of Beloit. Dougan was in the forefront of scientific developments in milk production including early experiments with artificial insemination. This allowed “grade” cows to be bred with outstanding bulls thereby quickly improving genetics and ultimately milk production.
Mr. Dougan was also early to practice what we would call today “management by goals”. Painted on the silo in front of the main doors is the following:
The Aims of this Farm
Good Crops.
Proper Storage
Profitable Livestock
A Stable Market
Life as Well as a Living
-W.J. Dougan

The 68’ diameter, 60’ high barn stands on a poured concrete foundation and is framed throughout with 2″ × 6″s and clad in horizontal siding. The framing for the two pitch gambrel roof ties into an interior silo. Milking operations took place on the ground floor and hay was stored on the upper level which was reached by a ramp. The photo at the top of the page shows a northwest view and the entrance to the milking floor; the ramp is on the south side.

Wesson’s son Ronald continued with dairy operations until 1969 and annually invited local schoolchildren to tour the dairy. The Dougan barn can also claim to be the location of the invention of corn curls, first used as a cattle feed. This led to the development of the Beloit area as a center for snack food production. Dougan also ventured into hybrid seed corn production and his product was sold throughout the Midwest.

The Dougan farm was purchased for a mobile home park in the 1970s and the barn has been relegated to a storage shed/garage. In 1995 the barn was slated for demolition by the city of Beloit which wants the property for an industrial site. Steve Frevert, formerly of Beloit and now of Chicago, nominated the barn for the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites and is now working with Ronald’s daughter Jackie Dougan Jackson to save the barn.

Saving the Dougan Round Barn

Jackie Dougan Jackson, professor at University of Illinois-Springfield, features the Dougan barn on her website at . There you can read about and see photos of the barn in its heyday. Jackie has also recently published Stories from the Round Barn (Northwestern University Press) and the Web site includes ordering information. You may also contact her via e-mail at

Mary Jane Rehard and Mark Twain Kellor, III, grandchildren of the builder, are also involved in saving the barn. Mark Twain Kellor III has some of his namesake’s tools that were undoubtedly used in constructing the Round Barn.

Preservationists have founded “Friends of the Dougan Round Barn” with the goal of moving it near the Wisconsin tourist center on nearby I-90, and land was recently purchased at this location. It is expected that several years will be required to raise funds and stabilize the structure preparatory to moving. For more information, please contact Bob Hallett, President of “Friends of the Dougan Round Barn” at 1207 White Avenue, Beloit, WI 53511, phone (608) 365-6159.

Artwork Comments

  • Lynne Prestebak
  • canonman99
  • lorilee
  • Marcia Rubin
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