Evers Plainview Farms wins Rural Preservation Award

Multiple generations preserve the Wolcottville farm, winner of the 2023 Arnold Award from Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Farm Bureau.

Multiple generations of the Evers family operate Plainview Farms in Wolcottville, honoring their heritage by continuing to care for the land and buildings developed by their ancestors. Their stewardship merited the 2023 John Arnold Award for Rural Preservation from Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Farm Bureau.

Keeping it in the Family

Architectural details offer clues to the history of a farmstead in Wolcottville in Noble County. Asphalt shingles on a barn roof read “Plainview Farms,” while stones in the house’s foundation spell out “Myers.” Owned and operated by the fifth, sixth, and seventh generations of the family today, Evers Plainview Farms wins the 2023 John Arnold Award for Rural Preservation from Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Farm Bureau.

In 1854, Pennsylvania brothers Sam, Jacob, and Reuben Myers purchased 80 acres in northern Indiana, establishing a farm that eventually grew to nearly 600 acres. The family harvested corn, oats, wheat, and soybeans, though today hay is the primary cash crop.

A standout example of its type, the barn continues to support the Evers’ farming operation, which includes raising Angus and Texas Longhorns and cultivating hay.

The farm owes its imposing brick house and barn to Reuben’s son, Frank. As a child, Frank Myers began gathering stones from the surrounding countryside, with a vision of using the collection someday to build a fine house with a rock foundation. After 40 years of stone-gathering, Frank, with the help of his hired hand and a stonemason, built the house and nearby barn over five years.

Frank, his wife Nellie, and their family became the first to occupy the three-story house, completed in 1923. It’s a showplace, with covered porches, oak, mahogany, birch, and birdseye maple hardwood, and, of course, the fieldstone base. The property boasted grand features as well, including an impressive staircase, sterling silver chandeliers transported by railroad from Toledo, Ohio, and a third-floor ballroom that still includes the piano lifted in through an upper window before the house was completed.

Frank’s great-grandson, Frank Evers, and his wife Evelyn raised their nine children in the farmhouse, where the couple still lives, overseeing farm operations with their oldest son, Mark Evers, his wife Christie, and his children Nathan, Emily, Andrew, and Olivia. Throughout the years, the family has preserved the original house as much as possible, maintaining the hardwood floors, plaster walls, leaded windows, and bathroom fixtures. Along with providing storage for family artifacts, the ballroom has served as a central gathering space, hosting square dances, graduations, weddings, and other family celebrations.

Nearby, the equally impressive brick barn with rock foundation dominates the landscape, spanning 60- by 120- feet across, with a 30- by 60-foot wing that incorporates a 12- by 40-foot silo. The barn first housed milk cows as Plainview Dairy in the ’20s and ’30s, supplying milk transported by horse and wagon to residents on Sylvan Lake. Frank and Evelyn resumed dairy operations in 1975. They constructed a milk parlor and added a second concrete silo, turned hog farrowing pens into calf pens, and converted horse stalls into maternity pens.

The surrounding landscape and lettering on the 1950s Harvestore silo inspired the family to name the property Plainview Farms. In the 1930s, the farm’s location along an airmail route between Chicago and New York convinced Frank Myers to rent one of his fields for $1,400 per year to serve as a landing area and emergency airstrip, where he maintained lights to illuminate the path for pilots. During World War II, a plane nearly hit the barn.

In 2002, the slim profit margins of dairy farming prompted the family to shift operations, first raising replacement dairy heifers for other farms and then expanding into a herd of 150 Angus and Texas Longhorns. To reflect the changes, when it was time for the barn to be re-roofed the family reconfigured the pictorial cows, changing the asphalt shingle to depict Longhorns instead of Holsteins.

For the past 17 years, Evelyn has worked to pass on respect for the land to her grandchildren by operating Plainview Playtime, a year-round family daycare and preschool at the farm. Along with learning traditional subjects, children receive hands-on lessons in farm chores and caring for animals, tending sheep borrowed from a neighbor during the summers.

“We’ve sacrificed to maintain this farm to the best of our ability,” says Evelyn. “It’s the real thing. It’s important to us, and we’ve worked to make it important to our kids and the next generation.”

Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Farm Bureau presented the Arnold Award to the Evers family on August 3 at the Indiana State Fair. The award is named in memory of John Arnold, a Rush County farmer who combined progressive architectural practices with a deep respect for the natural and historic components of rural landscapes, including the farm owned by his family since 1820.

This article first appeared in the September/October 2023 issue of Indiana Preservation, Indiana Landmarks’ member magazine.

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