The History of Park City’s McPolin Barn

Driving Highway 224 in Park City provides excellent views of the beloved, often flag-adorned, landmark, but what’s the story behind the McPolin Family Barn? 

It was 1922, and the final board was put in place on the majestic white barn. The timber had been salvaged from a tailings mill, and the pieces were assembled without nails. The 7,468 square-foot barn was state-of-the-art with its dairy operations, livestock housing and hay storage all under one roof. The McPolin family stood proudly together and smiled at the finished product. Over the next 100 years, the McPolins’ barn would pass through multiple owners and survive the ravages of time, a nearby fire and the modern real estate development boom.  

Long before the construction of The White Barn—as it would soon be known—the McPolins made their mark on the booming mining town of Park City. “Dan and Isabelle McPolin were true entrepreneurs,” says Rebecca Ward, Friend of the Farm Committee Member “By the turn of the 20th century, the couple owned a saloon on Main Street, along with the Park City Bottling Works, a lumber yard, a boarding house and many additional businesses.” The McPolins’ business savvy extended to real estate as well. In 1897, Dan purchased 80 acres from the McLane homestead for $600 and an additional 80 acres in 1901 for $750. (The equivalent today to about $49,000 for 160 acres, which boggles the mind.) 

The McPolin Barn is open to visitors and hosts special events throughout the year. Photo courtesy Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau

At first, they used the land for cattle grazing and raising hogs. However, by the early 1920s, Dan’s son, Patrick, wanted to try his hand at dairy farming. Dan encouraged the endeavor and soon the family owned 20 dairy cows and began building the large barn. After its completion, it was time to focus on a farmhouse. As luck would have it, the Silver King Con Mill had a vacant 400 square feet office, located in Prospector Square. The McPolins cut the building into two pieces, placed it on a wagon and transported it to their farm. 

Once they reassembled the structure, Patrick and his wife moved their belongings and their two children into the home. In 1925, a baby girl was born in the cottage. Before long, the young family and the farm were thriving and prosperous. 

By 1947, the McPolin children had grown and moved away, and the McPolins sold the farm to Dr. D.A. Osguthorpe, a local veterinarian. Upon purchasing the property, Osguthorpe—known to the locals simply as “Doc”—grew the herd to 100 cows and increased the dairy production. 

In a 2001 interview, Osguthorpe discussed the first time he saw The White Barn. “My grandfather was running cattle in the head of Mill Creek. He received a postcard from McPolin that some of his cattle had got down to their ranch in Park City. This was in 1926. We rode horses from the head of Mill Creek down to the McPolin Ranch and got the cattle out of their pasture. I saw this large barn, and I was just [6 years old.] It looked massive to me. I said, ‘Oh wouldn’t it be great to own a ranch like this, a barn like this?’ And in 1947, I owned the ranch!”

After purchasing the property, Osguthorpe and his family lovingly ran the 160-acre farm. In 1953, Osguthorpe erected twin grain silos on the property. (Today, these 40-foot structures are almost as famous as the barn they adjoin. )

Then,  in 1955, the little farmhouse caught fire and was severely damaged. Undeterred, the family kept going. They moved to the east side of Highway 224 and built a sturdy new house along with a milking station and corral. Unfortunately, this caused a slight inconvenience for Park City residents. As Paige Galvin, Manager for Park City Municipal, explains, “Two to four times a day, Highway 224 would be blocked as the cows were herded across the road.” 

As the decades passed, real estate developers began showing interest in the land surrounding The White Barn. Realizing the need to preserve the open space and the beloved barn, Parkites voted to purchase the land to preserve this icon for residents and visitors. 

Many of the farming structures, like these silos, were preserved along with the McPolin Barn. Photo courtesy Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau.

In 1990, the property was officially named McPolin Farm, in honor of its original owners. (Although, locals still just call it The White Barn.) After the purchase, Park City gave the barn a much-needed refresher. The city stabilized the rafters and installed a new roof. The city also rebuilt the farmhouse, along with an animal shelter. In 2016 substantial structural upgrades were added.  

 The White Barn turned 100 years old in 2022. It has been through many changes since 1922, but its original character, spirit and magnetism shine on, catching the eye and curiosity of passing motorists. Rebecca Ward says, “During the 2022 Your Barn Door is Open event, we celebrated the barn’s 100-year birthday, and it started to rain. As we ran for cover, we turned around and saw a beautiful rainbow appear behind the silos!”  

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Brandi Christoffersen
Brandi Christoffersen
Since she was a young girl, Brandi Christoffersen has enjoyed writing and telling stories. During her time as managing editor for a resource magazine, the publication repeatedly won Utah’s Best of State award and other accolades. Brandi has also had the privilege to interview and write articles for many locally based celebrities, including Tan France, Ty Burrell, Ted Ligety and Bill Engval. Growing up in Northern Utah, Brandi always adored the beauty and magnificence of this amazing state. Although the allure of a metropolitan lifestyle did tempt her away to Chicago, the mountains and easygoing pace soon called her back home. Brandi currently resides in Park City with her son, Pierce and French Bulldog, Pepper. Brandi is honored to be writing articles and features about this amazing state, and is very grateful to be doing what she loves each day.

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