The pavilion was once one of a dozen bright white farm buildings on Warren T. McCray's 1,500-acre Orchard Lake Stock farm (1865–1938). The property was located in Newton County, six miles northeast of Kentland. Mr. McCray served as the 30th governor of Indiana and was a banker, cattleman, and land speculator from Kentland. The Grand Champion Bull at the 1907 International Livestock Exhibition in Scotland was his favored bull, Perfection Fairfax. It is believed that the pavilion was constructed around 1896. It was and still is an eight-sided structure that measures 80 feet by 40 feet by 54 feet in height. Governor McCray began holding his breeding cattle auctions in the pavilion in 1908. His auctions were big global affairs. Attendees included cattle purchasers from all throughout the United States, as well as Europe, South America, and Canada.
According to reports, each auction event drew up to 5,000 individuals. The sale floor was surrounded by bleacher seats inside the pavilion, and the raised auctioneer's platform was located on the back side of the ring. As many as 1800 livestock purchasers could sit on the bleachers. 125 cattle were sold for $436,250 at one auction, with individual animals fetching up to $20,000. (Wagner, 1996). Up until the sudden death of Governor McCray in 1938, auctions were held in the pavilion. The final sale took place on April 14, 1938. The herd was sold after his passing, and the pavilion remained abandoned for many years.
The barn (pavilion) had suffered damage over the years due to the effects of time and the elements, and its owner, Henry Coussens, only valued the building sentimentally. If the roof wasn't fixed, the entire building will collapse within a year or two due to the extreme deterioration of the roof. The cost of just fixing the roof was estimated at $40,000. As a result, Mr. Coussens believed that demolishing the building was his only choice. Dr. Wagner was aware of the barn and was impressed by its past and its previous use. Additionally, he required a building for his 300-acre Angus cattle farm. So, Dr. Wagner and Mr. Coussens came to an agreement. Dr. Wagner purchased the building from Mr. Coussens for $1 with the understanding that it would be moved. It was a win-win for both men.
Each board, post, beam, brace, and window was numbered so the pavilion could be reconstructed in exactly the same manner. The carefully removed parts were loaded onto semi-trailers and transported twenty-two miles to the pavilion's current location. Custom replacement parts were milled using old records and pictures to replace the pavilion's severely damaged or missing parts. The original building's red and white color scheme was meticulously replicated. The pavilion was faithfully rebuilt and finished in November 1996. It is as near to the original as is humanly practicable, with the exception that the roof sheathing and roof shingles were replaced and the severely damaged cattle holding shed adjacent to the pavilion's back was left in place. Dr. Wagner stated, “It probably would have been cheaper to build a new structure, but you can't build history, feeling, and warmth. If this old barn could talk, we could spend hours listening."
11306 West 600 South, Wolcott, Indiana 47995, United States