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The Smiley Barn

Face of Children’s Toys

The Smiley Barn (Left to right) Odin Krzesinski, Addison Tank, Zoey Tank, Parker Tank, Emily Buckhouse, Hannah Buckhouse, Maria Luther (Owner), Sophie Dobkoski, Maya Dobkoski; Photo by Boutique Photographer Linda Smallpage; Instagram: @boutiquephotographer | Facebook: Boutique Photographer | Linkedin: Linda Smallpage

Anyone who’s driven past Delafield on I-94 knows the eye-catching barn with the huge smiley face on its side. But you may not know the story behind it.

The barn was part of a large dairy farm from the 1830s until the 1970s, when the freeway was built straight through the land. The farm ceased operations, and the barn was converted into an indoor shopping mall. To promote the new mall, a plywood smiley face was attached to the barn wall. In 1982, one of the mall tenants suggested painting the building bright yellow, and it’s been a beloved landmark ever since.

In 2018, Maria Luther, after a career as a corporate attorney, bought the building to turn it into a toy store. “It wasn’t just about opening a toy store,” Luther says. “It was about restoring this historic landmark. When I saw the Smiley Barn, I knew this was what I was meant to do.”

Luther kept the century-old building’s ceiling beams and petrified logs intact, while stocking the inside with a massive selection of toys. Her goal is to offer what big-box stores don’t, including letting kids play with toys and engage with staff. Long tables crafted by Luther’s husband and comfy chairs encourage both playtime and rest.

“We carry specialty toys that are higher quality – that the child will remain interested in long after the purchase,” says Luther. The Smiley Barn also carries a wide selection of fine chocolates, which are ideal for a gift box. Vintage candies are another allure, such as Charleston Chew, violet gum, rock candy, wax bottles, Satellite Wafers and rainbow-whirly lollipops. The Smiley Barn also has one of only three Playmobil-sponsored playrooms in the U.S.

Store manager Jessica Buckhouse, a parent herself, has a background in organizing trade shows and special events. She and Luther hold events for children throughout the year, such as a gold coin hunt for St. Patrick’s Day, a petting farm on Labor Day weekend, and letter-writing to Santa for Christmas.

“I feel like I’m giving back to the community,” Luther says. “We’re embedding lifelong memories.”


2420 MILWAUKEE ST., DELAFIELD | 262-303-9037

thesmileybarn.com