The advent of agriculture heralded the development of an architecture devoted to the activities of farming; structures to safely store animals, tools, and crops were needed for seasonal cultivation to be successful. These constructions are what became know as barns, and for thousands of years, their typology has stayed essentially the same.
In America, barns were brought over by many European settlers, including English, Dutch, and German, but the architecture of each group varied only slightly. In the early days of agriculture, the factor with the largest influence over barn style and structure was actually the surrounding geography and climate.
For example, deciduous forests grew in northeastern America, resulting in many timber-framed barns; similar barns were found in England and Germany, countries that also had access to ample forests. Farmers in areas with quarries of limestone or other types of stone incorporated the stone as a building material. As homesteaders in America moved further west, the change in environment influenced both the types of crops and animals that could be raised and the style and function of the barns that were built.
The Industrial Revolution brought along the use of manufactured materials such as corrugated metal and steel framing. Then, the rise in mass communication allowed building plans to be published and distributed, leading to fewer regional differences in barn style. Traditional timber-framed structures are few and far between in the contemporary world, built mainly by agrarian religious groups like the Amish.
Barn architecture continues to evolve—contemporary architects have begun to consider the buildings suitable dwellings. Like repurposed industrial buildings, renovated barns have become an attractive option for homeowners seeking a rustic abode with a bit more history than your typical new construction.