With 330 farmers leaving the business each week in America due to urbanization, new farming and building practices, and the inability to keep up with major agribusinesses, Missouri Preservation named the state's 35,000 historic barns and homesteads as some of the historic buildings at the greatest risk of deterioration in their 2012 list of Missouri's most endangered historic places.
The preservation organization specifically notes the white and stone barns at Fulton State Hospital as examples of endangered barns. Relics of the era when the hospital was self-sufficient and did its own farming, these barns have fallen into disrepair without a clear purpose.
"Because it's surplus to our needs, we've not had any money to invest on preserving buildings," said Ken Lyle, chief financial officer for Fulton State Hospital. "We have trouble meeting the needs for the rest of our buildings, so (the barns) are in a state of decline."
The stone barn was built in 1872 and was used for years as part of the hospital's farming operations. A small stone building was built behind it at some point later on that served as a butcher building. The white barn was built much later, in 1950.
All three buildings continued to serve the hospital until their final farming operation - a dairy herd - shut down in 1982. Since then, they have stood as storage buildings and fallen into disrepair.
While the hospital hasn't been able to save or preserve either of the barns, Fulton's Historic Preservation Commission hopes to do so for at least one. The group petitioned the state to sign over the property the stone barn stands on back to the city last year.
"What initiated the transfer back to the city is the fact that there was possible expansion and construction work at the state hospital, and they were just going to level that barn," said Commission president Dale Lewis. "It was just going to become rubble, and that's too old and neat a building to just destroy."