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Places: Round Barn, Arcadia

Oklahoman Modified: February 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm •  Published: February 3, 2010

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You can't help but smile, standing here alone in the middle of Arcadia's famed Round Barn. It's not just the way the arched ceiling amplifies every noise, from the sound of your voice to the crunch of the floorboards sagging beneath your feet.

It's the look of the place — wooden walls with exposed beams and diagonal braces, the ceiling rising up and up and up like the inside of a space rocket. It's as if someone started building the hull of a ship and kept going through 360 degrees; turned sideways, the whole thing could be the prow of an ill-conceived submarine, one that would never submerge.

The walls are drafty. Sun shines in between the boards, and you can hear the traffic on old Route 66 dopplering past. Wooden shutters dot the walls, opening not onto glass but to fresh air and the outside world. The whole place smells faintly of sawdust. It's rustic, beautiful and peaceful. Cold, too, with the wind blowing through those cracks and the open door. The dome of the ceiling peaks at 43 feet, leaving plenty of room for hot air to rise. Benches line the walls. Folding chairs, all closed, stand in regiments or hang like bats from a rack. Folded up tables, some rectangular, others round, lean against the walls nearby.

The barn was built in 1898 by William Odor and his hired hands. They soaked planks in water to make them pliable, then forced them into forms so they'd dry and harden into the curved shapes necessary to construct a round building.

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