Barns of Illinois

Larry Kanfer (Author) Alaina Kanfer (Text by (Art/Photo Books))


As a state abounding with broad farmlands, Illinois has depended heavily on its barns. At once imposing and humble, the barns of Illinois are much more than simply a place to store equipment and livestock. As gathering places for friends and family, they have become focal points of local communities, an enduring link between the present day and the traditions of the past. With these iconic structures as our guideposts, we find our way across the open landscape of the geography and history of the Midwest.

In this magnificent new collection, renowned photographer Larry Kanfer documents the diversity of barns throughout the Prairie State, from weathered, abandoned shelters in the countryside to proudly well-preserved landmarks featured in barn tours and even Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Kanfer presents barns from every angle, inside and out, from a distance and up close, to capture the many reasons why they fascinate, inspire, and reassure.

With engaging prose, Alaina Kanfer recounts the histories of many of the barns featured, revealing each barn's unique character and tracing its distinctive imprint on the land and on people's lives. While many of the buildings continue to function within family farms for storage and shelter, others have been rescued and restored and put to a wide array of new uses, such as schools and gymnasiums in Kane and Effingham Counties, an animal rescue organization in McLean County, a winery in St. Clair County, and workshops in Sangamon and Union Counties.

With more than one hundred full color photographs of dozens of barns from across the state, Barns of Illinois presents these proud emblems of the heartland as never before--a unique chronicle of a state and its evolving way of life.

Product Details

University of Illinois Press
Publish Date
September 01, 2009
10.2 X 0.8 X 11.5 inches | 2.6 pounds

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About the Author

Larry Kanfer is an award-winning photographer who operates galleries in Champaign, Illinois, and online at His previous books include On Firm Ground, Prairiescapes, and On Second Glance: Midwest Photographs. His original artwork is featured in public and private collections nationally.

Alaina Kanfer grew up in Chicago and received her doctorate in mathematical social sciences from the University of California, Irvine. She and her husband, Larry, live in Champaign with their two children, Anna and David, and their two cats.


"Barn lovers, this one's for you. . . . An enduring tribute to the land, people and traditions of the Midwest."--American Profile

"Kanfer has provided deeper insight into the state's rural scenery."--Peoria Journal Star

"This handsome work will be treasured by those with a real-life connection to barns and the country side, delight all readers with its beautiful photography, and perhaps inspire a new appreciation of these iconic structures that are so central to our consciousness of the past."--Journal of Folklore Research