J. C. Adams Stone Barn

The fertile Sun River Valley attracted twenty-six-year-old, Kentucky-born James C. Adams, whose worldly experience belied his youth. Orphaned at ten and a Civil War prisoner at sixteen, he came to Virginia City in 1864 at eighteen, already a seasoned teamster. Working as wagon boss for Fort Benton’s Diamond R freighting outfit brought Adams excellent income. In 1874, he bought this property along the Sun River. He figured soldiers at Fort Shaw would provide a ready beef market. Adams’ cattle business flourished and soon he needed more room. In 1882, he hired two Swedish stonecutters to build a monumental barn. They carved sandstone blocks from a nearby quarry and hauled them by buckboard. Completed in 1885, the barn cost an astounding $10,000. Its triple-sectioned first floor housed horses and tack, winter shelter for cattle, and wagons, buggies, and a meat locker for butchered beef. An open buckle meant welcome and Adams—always a generous host—chose that symbol as his brand. His hospitality was indeed legendary. The matched hardwood floors in the expansive hayloft above accommodated many a traveler and saw roller skating parties and community dances. Financial setbacks in 1901 prompted Adams to leave for Chicago. In his absence, his second wife and their nine children turned the ranch around. Adams died in 1913 and subsequent owners have kept the landmark barn in constant use. Upon the barn’s completion, the Sun River Press commented that it looked as if it could withstand the “storm and decay of a century at least.” Thanks to careful stewardship, it has.

Images

Adams Stone Barn

Adams Stone Barn

Adams Stone Barn Cascade County (verso) b&w print | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Unidentified photographer View File Details Page

Adam's [sic] Stone Barn NR

Adam's [sic] Stone Barn NR

SHPO Adam's [sic] Stone Barn NR Cascade Co (crop instructions) (verso) b&w print | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Unidentified photographer View File Details Page

[J.C. Adams Stone Barn, interior]

[J.C. Adams Stone Barn, interior]

Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana (verso unavailable) b&w print | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Unidentified photographer View File Details Page

[J.C. Adams Stone Barn, interior]

[J.C. Adams Stone Barn, interior]

Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana (verso unavailable) b&w print | Source: Official records of the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, Montana | Creator: Unidentified photographer View File Details Page

Adams Stone Barn

Adams Stone Barn

Romanesque stone barn post restoration | Source: Official records of the Montana Historical Society | Creator: Tom Ferris View File Details Page

Adams Stone Barn

Adams Stone Barn

Romanesque stone barn post restoration | Source: Official records of the Montana Historical Society | Creator: Tom Ferris View File Details Page

Audio

J.C. Adams Barn Audio

Historical marker text read by Montana Historical Society staff member Ellen Baumler. Presented on the Soundcloud channel "Montana History on the Go" 2015. | Source: Montana History on the Go | Creator: Ellen Baumler View File Details Page

Access Information:

private

Street Address:

NE of Sun River off U.S. Highway 81, 1¼ miles West of town
Sun River, Montana [map]

Cite this Page:

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “J. C. Adams Stone Barn,” Explore Big – Montana's Historic Places, accessed March 25, 2017, http://explorebig.org/items/show/219.

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