California Coastal Barns

By David Powdrell

One needs to spend the night in an old California barn (with owner permission) to fully appreciate it. The dank smells, the creaky sounds, and imaginations of what once was race in your mind as you snuggle up tight in your sleeping bag.

Lively turn of the century barn dances with fiddles, ladies in pretty dresses, hay bales and rugged cowboys, California coastal barns are tired now. Tonight it’s just a family of barn owls, my surfing buddy Derek, and me.

Coastal barns are the texture and fabric of California. But they are a dying breed. Some claim they’re a liability. A few barns are being reinforced, a handful are being renovated, but the bulk are headed for full deterioration back to the earth.

I always imagined that one day I’d buy an old barn, dismantle it, and plop it on a 5 acre parcel somewhere in the country. I’d convert it to a modern day home with big comfy bedrooms, state-of-the-art bathrooms, and a great room for entertaining. From the outside, it would maintain the look and integrity of an old California barn but on the inside, it’d be rockin’!

But barnwood is brittle. It’s weathered. And like most of the California barns, I’m too old and tired to tackle such a project now. But every time I drive by an old barn, my fantasy races back to the forefront.

Like photographing grandparents and great-grandparents, there’s a strong sense of admiration and respect for these centenarians. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have captured the images of many California coastal barns while they’re still standing tall, standing proud. 

More images available at:  California Coastal Barns


Written by bigwavedave

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