Round Barn windows vandalized, suspect identified
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield police, working with officials at the Central Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, have solved a recent rash of vandalism.
Executive Director Dale Christiansen told Hub City Times the vandalism involved someone coming through the fairgrounds during overnight hours, and using a knife to break out multiple windows along the lower level of the Round Barn’s northern-most side.
“We’ve got at least six broken windows at this point,” Christiansen told us Sept. 27, after the latest round of vandalism was discovered. “It’s happened on several different occasions. We do have some video coverage of the grounds, and we’re hoping some results come out of that,” he added. Two days after his initial report, Christiansen called to say a suspect had been apprehended based off footage captured by security cameras placed throughout the fairgrounds.
“We do have a person of interest identified, however, we haven’t made contact with him yet,” Chief of Police Jody Geurink told Hub City Times, in a Sept. 29 email. “He was identified in the last day or so, however, there is no documentation on our end to support a confession yet,” Geurink added.
Christiansen said the vandalism occurred over the course of a week in late September. He also said it’s a bit concerning, especially since the windows on the Round Barn are scheduled for replacement before winter settles in.
“In the past, we had put plywood shutters over top of the windows, which we take off in the summer. But, those are part of the reason that the windows that are in here have decayed. It’s rotting out the sills by putting those type of coverings on there,” Christiansen said.
He added the barn’s 90-plus windows are all scheduled for replacement, at a cost of $130,000. “The Parks and Recreation Department did write a grant, and there has been a grant given to Marshfield to take care of this project.”
Christiansen added the window vandalism comes at a time when interest in the historic Round Barn has been high. “Since fair time, we’ve had four couples that have been here from Kansas. We’ve had three different couples that came from Missouri. We’ve had a group out of Canada,” he says. “And, a lot of these folks are taking pictures of themselves on the outside of the barn. We then get them in the barn, and they admire the structure, and the way this thing was constructed over a hundred years ago. A lot of old contractors like to take a look at this and try to figure out how they accomplished this,” he added. “And there is a Round Barn Society. I had a phone call the other day from a gal from Beaver Dam who goes out and takes pictures of these types of structures, and this is on her bucket list. She wants to get up here and get some pictures, and the last thing we’d like is pictures of a round barn with the windows poked out, or plywood nailed over top of them. I just wish that it would be treated with the respect that it deserves.”
Billed as the world’s largest round barn, the structure first opened for use in 1916. The barn was added to the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places in 1996, and the national register a year later.