Bob Weingarten has lived in a 19th century barn for two decades. He and his wife Karen were on the hunt for a historic house when Karen stumbled upon a converted barn in Westport. Weingarten was in Tokyo at the time.\u00a0 \u201cKaren fell in love with this house,\u201d he said. \u201cCome see this house,\u201d she told him. Their barn house was originally built in 1805 as part of the Couch Farm. \u201cMr. Couch bought a chaise (a single horse-drawn wagon), and he built this barn to house the chaise, a horse and other animals,\u201d Weingarten, who is the house historian for the Westport Museum for History and Culture (formerly the Westport Historical Society) and a real estate agent, said. Couch also built a fireplace in the barn, which was converted into a home in 1975. During the pandemic, stories of city dwellers buying and renovating old barns in the country have become more frequent. But in Connecticut, this is nothing new.\u00a0 Connecticut\u2019s developed landscape is dotted with residential and commercial structures in places where agriculture once dominated. As communities began changing and becoming more industrialized, one by one, many of the state\u2019s working farms fell dormant over the centuries. Connecticut has more than 10,000 historic barns that vary widely in style, size, color and usage. Many of them, including some that are now dwellings, are included on the Connecticut Barns Trail, the first such trail in the country. The barn trail was established by Preservation Connecticut, which created a map and an app identifying the addresses of the barns in each of the state\u2019s municipalities. \u201cThere are barns that are as simple as could be, and there are barns that are the height of fanciful design,\u201d according to the Preservation Connecticut website. Some barns have been abandoned and left to deteriorate \u2014 towering hand-hewn beams humbled, hulking shells tumbling down on the farmland. Others escaped wrecking balls and the ravages of time by people whose interest is in repurposing the past. Many preservationists, professionals and hobbyists, have taken their stewardship seriously, converting barns into residences. The challenge of converting a barn into a residence rather than renovating and updating an antique house to suit a modern lifestyle is that barns, historically, didn\u2019t have many windows or insulation.\u00a0 \u201cNormally a barn only has a wood exterior without any interior walls,\u201d Weingarten said.\u00a0 Barn boards are \u201call that separates you from the outside world,\u201d added Christopher Wigren, deputy director of Preservation Connecticut (formerly the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation) in Hamden. For his house, Weingarten said interior walls had to be created and sheet rocked. For those who may be considering a barn conversion, Weingarten suggests hiring an architect who specializes in historic renovation. They can help the owner plan how to subdivide the interior space, how many rooms to include and how to configure those rooms. They can also help determine whether or not to incorporate existing features into the floor plan or remove them. For example, he said, one barn conversion in Westport kept a horse stable, which to this day is part of the home\u2019s living room. \u201cI don\u2019t think it\u2019s used for anything. It\u2019s just there,\u201d he said.\u00a0 There is an enthusiasm and interest unique to barns, according to Wigren. He said preservation, a love of history and a reverence for the past are only some of many reasons why people reclaim barns and convert them into dwellings. \u201cThrift, reusing a building that exists, not letting a building go to waste, recycling\u201d are all reasons, he said. Then there is the visual or aesthetic appeal of barns, which have wide-ranging styles and original purposes. Drive down any number of Connecticut roadways and see examples of them: gambrel roof barns (the classic American barn style), English A-frame gable roof barns, Gothic barns, bank barns, corn cribs, carriage barns, monitor barns and polygonal or round barns. They were used to shelter livestock, store equipment and to protect crops including hay, grains, onions and tobacco.\u00a0 By their very nature, barns have big, open spaces, thereby lending themselves perfectly to contemporary living and entertaining, which demands open floor plans and flexible usage of space.\u00a0 \u201cAn open floor plan is a feature people are now looking for,\u201d according to Weingarten. Most converted barns have identifiable features including cathedral ceilings, exposed beams and barn doors.\u00a0 \u201cMany barns were constructed with stone foundations \u2013 basement walls. Mine has eight-foot high, three-feet wide stone walls all around the house,\u201d Weingarten said. Here in Connecticut, there are barns that have been relocated, moved from one address to another by being rolled on logs or by using more modern techniques. Other barns here in Connecticut, Vermont and other states have been dismantled, transported to a new parcel and reconstructed on the new site. Those who are considering adaptive re-use of a barn as a home can visit the Preservation Connecticut website, which has a number of resources for owners of historic structures. \u201cI love the connection to the past. It makes me feel a part of history because you\u2019re taking care of it, maintaining it,\u201d Wigren said, hoping historic houses and barns will appeal to people in the future.