Bring home a piece of Missouri heritage
In Columbia, Linton’s furniture is sold at:
1400 Heriford Road, Ste. A, Columbia MO 65202
Mon.–Fri., 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Or visit the Green Meadow Barn Company’s workshop and showroom. Call 573-592-0331 in advance for directions and to make an appointment.
As a 7-year-old growing up on a farm in Chillicothe, Carolyn Linton used hammers and saws — she jokes that power tools weren’t invented then — to fashion wagon toys out of scrap wood for her and her brother.
Back then, Linton wanted to turn her family’s big red barn into a house.
Today, that barn sits on her property outside of Fulton after Linton had it taken apart, piece by piece, and moved in 2005.
The barn now functions as Linton’s workshop and showroom for her furniture business, Green Meadow Barn Company. A sign hangs just inside and reads, “Everything you see here, was once part of an old barn or house. Now that’s green.”
To Linton, it’s all about barns. Even her house is a converted barn she relocated, along with another larger storage barn on her property, from Prairie Home.
Linton says she didn’t grow up in a barn, but now she gets to live in one.
She takes wood from Missouri barns, many more than 125 years old, and fashions it into furniture. Linton says she drives country roads and looks for barns that aren’t in use; the absence of livestock or farm animals is a good clue. She finds the owner and asks to disassemble the structure.
Linton then pays two Amish men to take down the barn and transport it. Once she has the beams and boards in her yard, she puts them through cycles of storing, washing and drying before she’s ready to work with them.
Linton now has more than 40 years of furniture-building experience, but she has focused on Green Meadow full time for the past 20 years.
The oldest structure Linton has worked with dates back to 1826 — 20 years after Meriwether Lewis and William Clark completed their famous expedition.
To protect and preserve the natural grain, nicks, scratches, nail holes and the character of the wood, Linton only uses waxes that she hand-rubs on her furniture pieces. “They show the natural nudgings of time and nature,” Linton says. “They’re perfectly distressed.”
Kay Wax sells Linton’s pieces at her store, Columbia’s Bright City Lights.
“I think it’s very unique to have a piece of furniture that’s really a piece of history,” Wax says. “She’s a part of a message to sell products that are sustainable and friendly to the environment.”
Michele Spry first learned of Linton’s furniture about three years ago at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Wax’s Mary Moss Furniture, a more recent addition to Bright City Lights. Since then, Spry has collected seven pieces of Linton’s work. She owns five tables, a shelf and a bench her husband sits on every morning as he puts on his shoes.
Spry is so impressed with the craftsmanship, personality and sturdiness of Linton’s barnwood furniture that the pieces influenced the design of the house Spry plans to build within the next year.
“We will build a room large enough to display them like artwork but be able to use them functionally,”
For Linton, “The furniture says, ‘You can count on me. I’ve been here a long time.”
Linton takes pride in using wood that grew in Missouri soil more than a century ago.
To commemorate the rich history of these barns, Linton snaps a picture of the structure before it’s taken apart. Then Village Pewter in Glasgow, Mo., renders the image on a pewter medallion with the year the barn was built and its location.
Linton also writes the history of the barn on the undersides of her pieces. It includes the year, as well as the barn’s location and sometimes which parts were used in the piece, such as the rafters, joists or boards.
Linton says she appreciates and respects the original builders of the barns she deconstructs. They assembled the structures without electricity. But when Linton had her family barn rebuilt on her property, she hired cranes to raise the walls instead of using 30 or 40 men to hoist the timbers, which was how the barn was constructed 100 years ago.
Her love for architecture and building all started with her family’s big red barn. As she stands in her showroom, Linton points to the exposed interlocking of pegs, beams and joists along the inside wall of the barn.
“Isn’t that just music,” she says.