ADVISORY! Most of the barns in the San Juan Islands are privately owned. The goal of this website is to provide information about these historic barns while respecting barn owners’ private property. Many barns can be viewed from public right-of-ways. Please respect those barns that are on private property and do not trespass!
By Island. (Maps Under Construction!) Find a barn by its location on:
- Lopez Island,
- Orcas Island,
- San Juan Island,
- Shaw Island, or
- Outer Islands (Decatur, Stuart, Waldron).
Roof Type. The obvious visual selection criterion, in the manner of any field guide, is by the most prominent recognizable feature: roof style:
Ghost Barns. Then there are the barns that are gone, but not forgotten.
What’s in a name? In naming specific barns, we have tried to use their historic name–the one associated with the original farm or farmer. In some cases, however, we don’t know that, so we have used the current farm or owner’s name until we find out more about its history.
What’s “historic”? We have defined barns in the San Juan Islands as “historic” when they were constructed before or during 1959. Why that date? Because: when we began the San Juan County Historic Barn Inventory in 2009, that made these barns at least 50 years old; the types and modes of farming changed radically during the 1960s; and there was a federal agricultural census in 1959 that seemed to capture a good end date.
What’s a “barn”? A “barn” is loosely defined as a large building used for storing hay, fruit, grain, and other crops as well as housing livestock. For the various uses of barns in the San Juan Islands see Uses of Barns.
What and where are the “San Juan Islands”? The San Juan Archipelago consists of approximately 418 islands, reefs, and rocks at high tide. Located in the northwest corner of Washington State, the islands are bounded by Haro Strait to the west, Boundary Pass to the northwest, the Strait of Georgia to the north and northeast, Rosario Strait to the east, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, as well as the northern portion of Puget Sound, to the south. These islands are also what make up San Juan County. The islands are often differentiated as “ferry-served”–i.e. accessible by means of the Washington State Ferry system (Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, and Shaw islands)–and the “Outer Islands”–i.e. ones that you have to get to in some way other than ferry (Blakely, Crane, Decatur, Henry, Stuart, and Waldron, just to name some of the larger ones).