Gehlen Barn Restoration - MissySipper Brewing

The Gehlen Barn
in St. Donatus is reportedly the oldest standing barn in Iowa.
Built in 1839, the Europian style three story limestone structure was originally home to both the Luxembourg settlers and their livestock, with house, stable and barn lying under one roof (Quereinheitshaus).  The village of St. Donatus offers the only surviving collection of mid-19th century Southern or Lowland Luxembourg  vernacular stone architecture in the United States.  The Gehlen House, currently a bed and breakfast, sits on the front of the property and both the house and barn were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 18, 1979.

 The Gehlen Barn is one of two remaining agricultural structures in the city. The exterior stone walls have been left exposed and the building's moderately pitched side-gabled roofs were constructed without ridgepoles.  Narrow vertical openings are located along the walls on each side, possibly to provide ventilation but alleged to also provide a way to protect the barn from the Indians.

Don and Kari Vize purchased the property in July 2019, with a vision to bring the barn to life. It had been used for mostly storage over the past several years, but they have a vision to restore and use the barn so that everyone can enjoy the historic beauty of the property.  The plan includes creating a small nano-brewery and tap room, our very own MissySipper Brewing, once the structure has been restored and updated, as well as hosting small events and weddings.

This is a project of love and passion. No corporate sponsors, no behind the scenes funders. This is a mom and pop operation, with as much of the work as possible being done by Don, Kari and occasional friends and family who want to help.  And this is why we are asking for help. In order to maintain the integrity and history of the barn, it needs more work than just the two can provide: beams need to be replaced, flooring needs to be replaced, windows need to be replaced, and new wood/doors on the exterior side. So, we need your help.

Donated funds will be used for the historical preservation and replacement of needed structural items in the barn.  We want the barn to be around for years to come, regardless of what it will be used for.  Work has begun, but it needs a lot more, so funds are needed to continue the updates and bring in professionals who can do the work.  We want to share our dream with others now, so any support provided will make it happen sooner.


We thank everyone for their support in advance. We will thank you in person when we see you at the barn and we can all share the fruits of our labor.


  • Anne Potter 
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
  • Janet Cocayne 
    • $100 
    • 2 mos
  • Lauren Gloekler 
    • $5 
    • 2 mos
  • Amanda Healy 
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
  • Carla and David Ruth 
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
See all

Fundraising team: MissySipper Brewing (3)

Kari Vize 
Raised $75 from 2 donations
Saint Donatus, IA
Hanna Koster 
Team member
Raised $15 from 2 donations
Don Vize 
Team member
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