Baled Hay Construction

The invention of mechanical balers in the mid-1800s led to the use of bales of hay or straw as building blocks. Pioneer builders developed structural bale walls using cuttings of either native prairie flora—baled hay—or of agricultural waste, known as straw-bales. Most of the historical bale buildings were constructed during the Kinkaid Homestead era, between 1904 and 1935, and mostly in the Sandhills.

Bales were stacked like giant bricks to create structural walls like those of sod buildings. Blocks were often set in mud or concrete mortar, with rods used to pin the bales together. After a period of settling, buildings were fitted with chicken wire and plastered with clay, lime, or cement. Sturdy beyond expectation, properly built and maintained structures have an indefinite life span. Fewer than 100 are known from the historical period in Nebraska. Pilgrim Holiness Church is the only known church built of baled hay. These “Nebraska Style” buildings inspired a modern resurgence of bale construction. Since the 1970s thousands of bale buildings have been built worldwide, including many in Nebraska and the American Southwest."


Pilgrim Holiness Church. NW intersection of Heath and Cedar Streets