Upon completion, ranch owner Stephen F. Jones learned that his barn was one of the largest barns in the state of Kansas at the time.
Like most of the buildings on the ranch, the Spring Hill barn was built of limestone — the foundation of the Flint Hills prairie. Its three stories housed stalls, feed and grain storage for the large scale, year-round ranch operation. A team and wagon could enter the upper level by one of the ramps, unload, and easily turn around inside to exit.
The structure originally had a tin roof and a massive "double-header" windmill with 30 foot blades. By harnessing the ever-present energy of the prairie winds, the windmill was intended to power "a pair of corn burrs, a corn sheller, hay chopper, root cutter, and an oil-cake crusher", with the equivalent of a 12 horse-power engine. Reportedly, vibrations from ite enormous wingspan caused the windmill to be removed after only a few years.
"It will take 5,000 pounds of tin to cover the mammoth barn of S.F. Jones on Fox Creek, and the tinners are laying it on." Strong City Independent, December 24, 1881