The first Barn Owl I ever saw was in the headlights swooping low over a marshy field on the North Shore of Long Island. It did, indeed, look spooky in its whiteness.
Barn Owls have a worldwide distribution, but they stay away from the colder regions. In North America, they aren't found much north of southern New England.
Barn Owls are prodigious mouse and rat killers. As such, they are birds of farms and meadows, not of woodlands nor of suburbia. In the Northeast, their numbers were surely higher when the countryside was filled with small farms and cow pastures. Midwestern industrial-scale farming offers them little of interest. I suppose they are the night-time analogue of the Marsh Hawk. The rodents never get a break.
I have never seen or heard one at Maggie's Farm, which would seem to be perfect habitat for them, but which might be towards the northern edge of their range. We even have an open shed with a loft which would be perfect for them to raise a family in. (The Barn Swallows think they own it, though, so maybe they would pester the owls too much.)
The subject of Barn Owls came up because Samizata, of all places, posted a piece on Barn Owl nest boxes. Nobody is going to make a lot of money producing these, but it's a great idea as the wooden barns and silos of the past are falling down.
Here's the CLO bit on the Barn Owl. Wiki has a more extensive write-up.
Photo is a Barn Owl family in an old silo.