How to enclose a unique? barn

My family is moving to TN in February, and the property we have purchased has a huge “barn” AKA airplane hanger. I am trying to think of ways to enclose the ends of the barn, the best course of action. My husband has ideas but I am interested in hearing other HORSE people’s opinions on the best way to go about this, for the horses.

We would like to enclose both ends, and build stalls and a tack room on one end, my husband gets a small portion for his tools and lawn mower :slight_smile: but the majority of the barn will be devoted to the horses. Would you completely enclose the ends? The barn is a whole heck of a lot bigger than it shows in pictures, probably about 75 feet high at the top. This is definitely going to be an interesting…conversion. I think in the end it will work out beautifully but I am having a hard time envisioning it.

Thanks in advance!

Looks like a quonset hut without ends. There are several options, just google it.


Thank you!

You’re welcome! I’ve never quite understood the concept of these, but you see them all over so it must be my own ignorance. Post pictures when you finish doing something horsey inside, I’d love to see it!

Frame it in and put an overhead garage door on at least one end.


Thank you! When we get it finished I will be sure to share pictures. Endlessclimb I am also not sure why the appeal…this one ended up being the cover for a little plane (thus why I thought it was an airplane hanger). But, it very obviously looks like a quonset hut like you suggested. I didn’t even know they existed. It will be interesting! I would have loved to have made it a small indoor for in the winter, but it is the only structure on the property so it will be turned into the barn.

I’m a bit further south… but I would leave it open and put a double row of free-standing stalls down the middle, with solid walls on the end stalls. And I’d probably use portable buildings for storage inside it.

Then… if you build your dream barn later and do want it to be a covered arena, it can all come out.

But I am allergic to permanent infrastructure, so YMMV.


Is the structure corrugated steel, and the floor packed soil? Is there a water supply nearby for the stalls? Are you planning to add a toilet and a septic field? Is there already electricity run to the hanger? How is the structure oriented regarding sunlight and prevailing winds?

If you just wall the open ends it will be dark and poorly ventilated inside. Is the structure sound enough to add translucent roof panels and something akin to a ridge vent or a cupola?

I like the idea of leaving the structure as is for shelter and ventilation and adding free-standing stall and tack room and workshop units under it, if it is large enough. I would definitely want an evaluation by a structural engineer before I stalled my horses under it or modified the structure.

Quonset structures were originally cheap, temporary prefab construction developed by the Navy in WWII, able to be erected quickly by unskilled labor. The design does have wasted floor space inside due to having curved outer walls.

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This type of building goes by lots of names-- check out websites for suppliers of quonset huts, hoop buildings, arch truss buildings, and you’ll get lots of ideas for endwall and door options for this shape building. Some examples to get you started:

I would totally enclose both ends. Note that you can “inset” the endwall– doesn’t have to be right on the end-- to create a lean-to.

This blog has some nice step-by-step photos on their endwall construction.

I echo the above caution that you should not just slap walls onto a structure without a professional opinion about how that will affect its integrity, especially look at how it’s anchored to the ground. That said, they’re usually very strong buildings precisely because their shape is aerodynamic, snow doesn’t accumulate as much, etc.


The structure is corrugated steel, and the entire thing is bolted together with bolts. As far as to how it is secured, I am not sure. Unfortunately that question will have to wait until we make the move sometime next month (we are currently still in FL). The inside is packed, hard clay, with one 12’ X 12’ concrete pad within.

Electricity is not run directly to the barn yet, but the electric has been extended down the driveway and the closest power pole is about 150’-200’ from the structure, so we will end up needing another pole put in closer to the barn when we get to that point. Water will be available, as our home (and well) will only be about 150-200’ from the barn. Of course, we would then run water TO the barn but that is a ways down the road.

I had thought about leaving it open on both ends and building my stalls and tack/feed room towards the middle…but that leaves a lot of wasted space, because when it rains and it is really windy, it goes directly into the structure. I was also worried about having a wind break for the horses, perhaps enclosing one half of each side to mitigate that if we weren’t to fully enclose it?

We do plan on having an engineer come assess it prior to our making any changes. And the good news is, the horses are on my Aunt’s property (up the driveway from our property), and she has stalls/paddocks for them until we can ensure the structure is safe, and to get everything completed. We are hoping to have it done by next winter.

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Thank you HungarianHippo1!

This is a thought. We were thinking of doing corral/panel stalls, but the solid walls on the end stalls would solve my concerns re: blowing wind/rain into the structure. We could definitely haul a storage shed in there. It is massive, my Aunt says when she was going to convert it to a barn, it was large enough she could have done 5 12 X 12 stalls down each side (with nothing else like a tack room), with a 14’ wide aisle between the stalls. So we definitely have plenty of room to work with!



If it is as massive as you say, the rain could come in and still never reach the stalls. My observation is that horses really benefit from maximum ventilation. Using prefab stalls with a solid wall on the side facing the dominant wind would probably provide sufficient shelter. Just think of all those horses who stand outside their field shelter in all weather.

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We have one of those, 40’ x 80’ and we solved the problem by adding an overhang on the South side for the stalls, with runs off them.

How large is yours and which direction is it oriented?

You could also add an overhang to one open side, put the stalls on one end, with runs to the outside and close it above the overhang.

Then use part of the back for on one side tack room, the other storage and the middle to groom and saddle and work on horses, the back part for shop for DH?

There are so many possibilities!
Take your time to think how you want to work out of it before committing to anything.

Nifty! I would have given a limb to find a property with a building that size on it.

Here is what I would do with that building if I was wanting to minimize wind / rain and not spend a fortune trying to retrofit that curved top and sides.

I’d build free standing end walls (about 12 ft tall) and just let the top in the gable be open. That should mitigate most of the wind and rain without being a huge pita. The edges of the end walls would be a little tricky due to the curvature of the wall but not a deal breaker.

A friend has one 40’ x 100’

He has four stalls with an aisle between them in one end, then a clear space for hay and some panels making a 40’ x 60’ or so area he added sand to.
He uses that as a kind of round pen to start colts and one side has a cutting horse flag, to train for cutting on it.
He uses that in the winter, when his outside 150’ round pen for cutting training is too wet or too windy and cold.

He had some really good colts come out of that program, that won plenty for him.

If you really wanted to make that an indoor, may just keep thinking about that?

If you’re thinking of using it as an indoor, how much usable space will there really be if your head is 7+ feet above the ground before you start doing things like posting? Because the walls are curved, you probably won’t be able to go all the way to the edge once you’re mounted.

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That was my question too. Don’t make any decisions until you’ve actually experienced the prevailing winds and how they affect the structure.

It’s too cold on my property to do anything open (I’m in NY) but the orientation of the building still makes a huge difference in how I would lay it out. The person that situated my barn did a great job to put the back of the barn against the prevailing winds. Any other orientation would have been much less comfortable for horses and humans.

Looking at it from that point of view, it wouldn’t make a good indoor area. I would have to ride at least 8’-10’ away from the walls, because of the curved walls.