The History and Nostalgia of Texas Hill Country Red Barns

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Scattered throughout the Texas Hill Country are incredible landscape scenes already perfectly designed as murals or magnificent works of art — rustic and genuine pieces of Texana ready for framing. The Texas Hill Country serves as a wide-open canvas painted with a bright blue sky, lush green trees, colorful wildflowers in an abundance of colors, and a historic red barn as a focal point.

Red BarnsPhoto: Facebook/Mikki Senkarik

Some Hill Country barns date back to the beginning of Texas and are the result of the earliest of community events: old-fashioned barn raisings. When settlers moved into an area, sometimes the barn was built before the house because they were the main structure of the Texas farm. Today they still evoke a nostalgic sense of tradition, security, and community spirit attributed to the farming and ranching culture of the Lone Star state. It was the classic Texas standard of neighbors helping neighbors.

Texas settlers were resourceful and efficient with the materials at hand. Paints, sealants, and other building materials were non-existent. Farmers used linseed oil, an orange-colored oil derived from flax and mixed it with milk, lime, or rust. Rust protected the wood from the elements but it also eventually turned it red. When paints became more readily available, the tradition continued and red barns began to fill the Texas landscape.

7286606144_a6142ea7d4_kPhoto: Flickr/Paul O’Rear

So widespread and customary were these red barns that there was even a town named Redbarn, Texas. It was an oil boom town in Pecos County in the 1930’s named after a red barn on the property that was converted into a boarding house for oil field workers. When it burned to the ground, it was never raised again and the town is now listed as a Texas ghost town. As barn raisings became a thing of the past, some of these historic barns have been subjected to barn razings instead.

Fortunately, a lot of Texas’ younger generation is eager for nostalgia and historical preservation and have incorporated these barns into their businesses and lifestyle. Barns have been restored and repurposed as wineries, restaurants, antique stores, romantic bed and breakfasts, dancehalls, and rustic wedding venues.

Red BarnsPhoto: Kevin Fowler’s Rustic Ranch

Wimberley’s own Kevin Fowler, one of Texas’ top country artists, recently opened his Rustic Ranch wedding venue, which includes not only a red barn-style reception hall built with all reclaimed material but also a chicken barn as a dance hall. It is a modern adaptation with a healthy respect for history and tradition and a tribute to the reverent spirit of the Texas Hill Country.

Take any of the Hill Country’s rural scenic drives and experience not only the heart and soul of Texas but enjoy the serene, luscious countryside and capture its picturesque landscapes of wildflowers, bluebonnets, and red barns.