The Filley Barn Today
On April 11, 1977 the Filley Stone Barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The following year, it was willed to the Gage County Historical Society by owner Edwin Pedersen, with over three acres of the surrounding land and $10,000 for restoration.
The Gage County Historical Society is continuing the restoration, which was begun in 1980, as funds become available. An additional 20 acres were added in 1986. The exterior restoration of the stone was completed in 1981.
The Filley Stone Barn is located at 13282 E. Scott Road, two miles southwest of Filley, Nebraska (12 miles east of Beatrice on US Highway 136).
Visitors can see the Filley Stone Barn from the outside at any time.
Group tours and historical programs can be scheduled by contacting the Museum.
October 5-7, 2016 are Pioneer Days when area 4th graders will experience early farm life at Cottage Hill Farm. Visitors are welcome.
October 8, 2016; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. is the Harvest Festival when a number of activities will be held at the barn. Free admission and a great chance to step back in time for a day. Antique tractors, horse drawn equipment, blacksmith demonstrations, marble making, plowing and threshing plus more! Also vendors and the Gage County Historical Museum will be selling Elijah Filley Stone Barn Memorabilia.
Complete historical information can be obtained from the Gage County Museum or from the information box located at the entrance to the barn.
History of the Filley Barn
In 1867 Elijah Filley his wife Emma, their two sons, Fitch and Hiram and his father Ammi came to Gage County. The family lived in a tent until they completed their seven rooms, 1-1/2 story stone dwelling in 1868. They called their new home "Cottage Hill Farm."
In 1874 the farmers were in bad shape. They had two summers of drought, grasshopper invasion, and crop failure. Many farmers were packing up and heading back east. Those that remained needed work. Elijah Filley chose this time to build his barn. The news that Elijah Filley was building a barn spread fast. Men came from all over the area looking for work. Men who lived too far away to drive home each night were quartered in tents.
The stone for the barn was hauled from Elijah's property near Rockford. The lime was hauled from Beatrice. Stone piers were erected to hold the floor joist support beams from the interior. They are two feet square and the beams are one foot square and extend the entire length of the barn. The main floor was laid of three-inch planks and the floor seams were caulked with oakum, which was then covered with melted pitch. The oakum was made from hemp. All this was to make the floor watertight. The lumber was hauled by ox team from Nebraska City.
By mid-October the walls went up. A row of decorative hand-carved narrower stone was placed around the barn between the lower and second level. The walls on the first floor were two feet thick, and eighteen inches thick on the two upper floors. The haymow floor joists were placed, and the stonework was completed on the tenth of November 1874. The carpenters had the roof plates and rafters cut before the last stones in the walls were laid. All the workers then helped with the rafters, nailing the sheeting and laying shingles. An eight-foot square cupola completed the barn.
The barn, which became a local landmark, served its intended purpose for many decades.
To learn more: The Filley Stone Barn and Cottage Hill Farm by Gage County Historical Society. 2004. 33 pages. Paperback. Available at the Gift Shop.