This guest post comes to us from one determined barn owner in Allen County, Indiana, and mirrors many of the renovation stories we at the NBA hear regularly, but Jessica Erpelding has the grit and grace to see through her efforts to legally and legitimately open an event barn for weddings and other gatherings–but more importantly, to share the ups and downs she has faced along the way. To learn more about Jessica’s efforts to save this barn and share it with her community, click here!
My name is Jessica Erpelding and this is my unexpected journey of how I fell in love with my barn and its story. When my husband and I were looking to buy our first home, we were supposed to look at another house down a block but we accidentally took a wrong left turn and stumbled upon this property that had been for sale for quite some time. We fell in love with the house, property, and the barn was rundown but still a perk. However, we had no idea about the history of the barn until after we purchased it.
The bank barn is shown on a 1938 aerial picture of the property and may have been built prior to that. It was used for livestock up until Ruby and Oscar Hanefeld purchased the property in the early 1960s. They successfully transformed the barn into a popular reception hall in our area, that was in business until the late 1980s. This was no small feat. They built a beautiful hardwood dancefloor upstairs by connecting the two existing haylofts. They also added onto the barn to accommodate bathrooms and running water. They even managed to heat the building and run the business year-round. At the time that Ruby and Oscar accomplished all of this, the property was located on a dirt/stone road and barn reception halls were unconventional at the time.
Prior to us purchasing the property, the barn had sat with little to no maintenance for 25 years. The roof was leaking badly, there was severe water damage to the inside and part of the dance floor, and was cluttered with remnants of the flea markets Ruby used to have from time to time. The upstairs was covered in about 3-4 inches of bird poop. It’s funny because I remember when the realtor showed us the barn he said to us, “Think of it as a diamond in the rough.” We had later decided to clean it up enough to have our own wedding reception in it. It was when I was pressure washing the floor upstairs, that I realized it was all beautiful hardwood. I remember thinking to myself, “There’s my diamond!”
The idea of bringing back this once thriving reception hall was a far-fetched dream, but a dream I was passionate about none the less. Over the years, we managed to replace the roof and fix the water damage. The more we fixed, the more the barn along with the dreams of its future came alive. So far, we have gotten approval from our county to go ahead with our reception hall plans. However, the codes and permits required for such a business in Indiana, especially here in Allen County, are much more strict than they were back when the Hanefeld family ran the business.
The Little Red Barn was run as an “unofficial” business in the past, meaning that it was never registered with the state and there are no tax records for such a business. So we were not able to be grandfathered into any zoning regulations. In the beginning, I assumed that we could fix up the barn little by little by charging discounted rental rates and using the proceeds as “donations” to invest back in to the barn. I put the barn up on Facebook, not really advertising that I was renting it out in October just to feel it out a little bit. The response was immense. Before I knew it I had 9 bookings in 2 months with no advertising. I thought this was great, and it was going to happen. I figured, when we got it to the point of where it was up to code, we would start it as an official business. Come to find out that everything about this plan was wrong and could have gotten me in some hot water.
My husband’s uncle happens to work for the Allen County planning department. He told me that in the last year alone, he shut down three barns that were doing the exact same thing I was planning to do. They received huge fines and were closed down. One of the barns was a repeat offender and they will be unable to open their doors for another 10 years. This honestly shocked me. I asked him, “But what if I told them the people using my barn were friends or family and they were “donating” to my barn?” He said, “Jess, I’ve heard it all before and it won’t matter. Once me, or someone like me, shows up at your doorstep, the gig is up. It only takes one person to complain or report what you are doing before we show up.” I’m not going to lie, this was disappointing to hear. However, what he said made sense. It’s not just a tax issue. It’s a public safety issue. There are codes and permits required to make sure that you are and continue to stay up to a certain level to ensure the safety of your guests. I knew that I did not want to get fined or shut down. I still had those 9 bookings to worry about. I also knew that I did not want the IRS down my throat or have somebody injured, or possibly killed in my reception hall. So there was only one thing to do…take the big plunge!
Now keep in mind that this conversation I had with my uncle took place in January of this year 2017. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Luckily, he helped guide me to the next steps I had to take quickly. First step, get in touch with your local counties planning department. Our planning department in Allen County offers you to schedule a conference with the heads of departments such as the board of health, board of zoning, board of traffic and highway safety, etc. This is a great opportunity and take advantage of it if your county offers it. In the conference you can discuss your plans on what you would like to do and what you want your business to offer, and they give you feedback as to what applications or permits you need to implement your plans.
In my case, the barn is located on an A1 zoning district, which means residential and agricultural use only. However, there is a loop hole to starting a reception hall and other businesses on an agricultural property. Per our county’s zoning rules a reception hall is allowed with approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals of a special use application. The application itself cost $350. I had to submit the application with the land deed and a detailed site plan. A detailed site plan is basically a drawing of the property and what it will look like once you start your project. You can draw this yourself or you can have an architect draw one for you. I chose the latter because I was advised that if at your hearing with the Board of Zoning Appeals, your drawing wasn’t right or missing something you have a greater chance of getting your application denied. That meant you would have to resubmit the application, another $350, and wait another month for another hearing. I wanted to do everything right the first time, so I hired a local engineer. Honestly, I would recommend this. Engineers do this for a living they know your county’s codes and requirements like the back of their hand. So, it takes out a lot of the guesswork and you are going to need one later on when you submit paperwork to the state anyways.
I also found out in my conference from the department of traffic and highway safety that a parking lot is required for such a business. Parking lots here in Allen County are required to be hard paved surfaces and they usually figure 3 people per car for your maximum occupancy. My maximum occupancy is 200, so I needed a lot for 70 cars. This was way bigger than I was planning and it sounded really expensive. My uncle helped me again by telling me that there is a variance application I could submit to request gravel instead of asphalt or concrete. The application was another $350 but being allowed to have gravel would save me thousands, so I submitted a variance application as well.
Second step is a hearing with the Board of Zoning appeals. This is a make or break process and is very important. The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) has reviewed your application and detailed site plan at this point, and this is where you plead your case. It is a great help to have the support of your neighbors and community. In most cases, this is their biggest concern. They can either approve or deny your project at this point. If your project is approved you are free to move on to the next phase, submitting applications to the state. However, if you get denied you have two choices, try again or give up your project. I had the approval of my neighbors and our mayor. The neighbor to the east of my property just requested that I have some sort of landscaping buffer put up to give him more privacy, which I found fair enough. I had our mayor write me a letter that I brought to the hearing. If you can’t get a letter from your mayor, letters from your neighbors are just as important. I am proud to say that as of April 15th we have gotten approval from Allen County to have a reception hall on the property.
Now we are moving on to our state paperwork. This will rezone the barn into a commercial property once it is inspected and up to code. This part is not cheap by any means. The barn used to have a septic, but it is unusable. So, in order to install a new septic system it must meet commercial standards. To do this you will need to hire a septic designer to submit the proper paperwork to state, and a soil scientist to take samples of the dirt and survey the property for the septic designer. We have already submitted out paperwork to state and they will send me the requirements like how big of a gallon system it has to be and where it has to be located. As of now, we have a rough idea of how big it has to be and where it has to be located. Unfortunately, we have a high clay content in our Indiana soil, so the system will have to be located about 3/4 acre away from the barn itself. Needless to say, this is going to be my biggest expense. My engineer is working on the detailed drawing of the inside. This is expensive, but well worth it if you can get it all right the first time around. We also need to add another stairway to the upstairs dance floor for an emergency exit, smoke and pull fire alarms, and make it handicapped accessible somehow.
When this all started, I had no idea what I was getting into. This process is very expensive and not easy, but if you take it in baby steps with stride you can do anything. We never prepped for financing because I thought I could have the barn pay for itself. I have been a stay at home mom for four years, so it’s not that I have bad credit I just have lack of it. Everything is in my husband’s name and because of this his debt to income ratio is too high to take on a traditional business loan. So, if you are considering making this journey yourself learn from my mistake and prep yourself financially for a loan. We have been taking some steps in hopes of qualifying for a loan or financial assistance in the future. This includes cleaning up our credit scores, getting some revolving credit in the form of a credit card that I am keeping at a low balance and paying on time, and registering the business as an LLC and applying for a DUNs # to built up a business credit score.
Most banks do not like to lend to start-up businesses, so make sure that you have a sound business plan. I have two. One is for potential investors/lenders, and one for traditional banks. You usually need a credit score higher than 720 in order to apply for a start-up business loan. That’s why it is a good idea to build your business credit score as well if you don’t have the greatest credit. Talk with your local banks and see what they require for business loan and make sure you tell them that it is a start-up business because they may require additional information. If you get denied, don’t be afraid to ask why. It is the only way you can better your application for the next time around. We are self-funding everything now until we are able to qualify for a loan, hopefully, in the next few months. Since conventional loans are out of our reach at the moment, I am stepping out of my comfort zone and searching for unconventional funding in the form of investors, lenders, grants, or donations. I have started a Kickstarter account as well. If I am successful on this platform, I think I can start a movement that inspires others like me to believe that they too can help save the precious few old barns we have left. I’m nobody special, so if I can do this anybody can.
The point is don’t give up. I was not in the greatest position to start this venture, but I have accomplished more in the last four months than I had ever dreamed. This IS something that ordinary people can do. My advice is to reach out to your county, community, neighbors, and family. Talk about your plans and seek advice. I know I couldn’t have done what I did if it wasn’t for the advice and support of others. You will inevitably have bumps in the road, but great things that come easy won’t last and the great things that lasts won’t come easy.
If you follow the NBA on Facebook, you might be familiar with the colossal effort being put forth since the Fall of 2014 to Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake (including the work of a high school student who made fundraising to save the barn her senior class project!). Over the past couple of years, we have watched support for rehabilitating this barn blossom – in part because they are taking the right steps to physically maintain it, but also because they have rallied their community behind the long-term goal to preserve this iconic barn.
Though there is never enough money to save all of America’s great barns, outstanding examples like the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake clearly have the power to unite us, enrich our rural landscape, and remind us of our shared agricultural history. Our thanks to the volunteers and area residents for their work to make a big difference in their community and save that barn!
Guest post by Dave Curry, Committee Member, Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake
In Pineville, Louisiana overlooking Buhlow Lake sits a beautiful old Dairy Barn on the property of the Central Louisiana State Hospital. The barn was built in 1923 by Joseph H. Carlin, an architect who was a former patient at the hospital who remained on staff after his successful treatment. The barn was built to supply dairy products for the hospital and many patients worked there as part of their rehabilitation.
Dairy operations began in 1926 and ceased around 1956 when the pastures used for grazing cows were turned into what is now Buhlow Lake. The dairy operations moved to Grant Parish. Since then the barn has mainly been used for storage and most recently was the painting shop, although it is essentially unused today.
The Dairy Barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and a roofing and stabilization project occurred in the mid 90s as the building was feared to be in danger of collapsing. Laminated beams were made to replace 10 of the original curved beams that support the roof, and steel tension bars were placed horizontally throughout the loft’s interior for extra reinforcement. The barn has been recognized by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the most endangered sites in the state of Louisiana as early as 2009 and for 2016.
In 2012 the State of Louisiana announced plans to relocate the Central Louisiana State Hospital to a new facility to be built near Pinecrest. Funding is in Priority 5, meaning the timeline is uncertain.
In November of 2014, Kendra Van Cleef created the “Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake” page on Facebook. Within a week there were over 5,000 likes and currently over 10,000 likes. Many people expressed interest in this project and an informal committee was formed to explore possibilities and champion the cause of saving the barn. The barn is not in danger of being demolished; the primary concern is the deterioration due to weather and the lack of a plan for its restoration and use.
An Historic Structure Report was prepared and donated by Tom David, owner of Pan-American Engineers, providing an assessment of the structural condition of the building and some estimates of costs to preserve and rehabilitate the structure. The long-term issue of the barn’s ownership and operation are still in question, but it is desired to bring the barn into private ownership and a use that is accessible to the public. The initial goals and rough estimates are:
- First project – $70,000 to repair the north wall that is in danger of falling
- Total project – $250,000 to completely rehabilitate the exterior
A non-profit corporation has been formed which is entering a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Department of Health of the State of Louisiana for a restoration project for the Dairy Barn with Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake raising funds and donating repairs. The “Save the Dairy Barn Fund” has been established with the Central Louisiana Community Foundation to provide financial accountability in receiving tax-deductible donations.
DONATE $5 or $10, SO WE CAN
“Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake”
If each of the thousands of people in central Louisiana and beyond (readers of The Barn Journal) donates $5 or $10 to the Save the Dairy Barn Fund, this will help finance this initial project. Now is the time! Thank you.
Donations to the Save the Dairy Barn Fund at the Central Louisiana Community Foundation can be made by visiting www.savethedairybarn.com or by mail to:
Save the Dairy Barn Fund
c/o Central Louisiana Community Foundation
PO Box 66
Alexandria, LA 71309
Excerpts of this story come to us from our partners in barn preservation at the Indiana Barn Foundation and details the work of a long-time NBA member and barn advocate, painter Gwen Gutwein. Over the years, Gwen has graciously allowed the NBA to add interest to a number of articles and social media posts with beautiful paintings. Therefore it gives us great pleasure to share her story and talent with barn lovers the world over! **Copyright Gwen Gutwein and HERITAGE BARNS. Any reproduction of these images without written permission of the content creator is prohibited.**
In December 2015, Gwen Gutwein made her final trek–searching out distinctive and historic Indiana barns.
Exhibits of Gwen Gutwein’s barn paintings and histories have been touring the state of Indiana since 2009, but her barn-painting project trademarked HERITAGE BARNS started more than eleven years ago in the fall of 2004. And it all began with a lofty and time-consuming goal: to research, study, and paint two historic barns from each of Indiana’s 92 counties.
When asked about the project’s purpose and her own motivations, answers come easily.
“Over the years I have seen so many barns disappear. With each barn we have lost so much. The old barns are very beautiful, literally and figuratively speaking. Literally, 100 or 150 years ago the materials used to build a barn are almost non-existent today. The size and length of some of the timbers is extraordinary. Many old barns were built with our native timber! The skills used back then are unique, ingenious and quite astounding.
The time and skill used to decorate barns must have given such great satisfaction to the barn owner. Over the years, their barns have graced our countryside with their unique beauty. And then there is the beauty expressed through time that becomes an integral part of the structure itself, such as the family history, the cultural history, the farmers’ integrity and the farming ingenuity.
Certainly too, I was able to practice my art of painting. Each painting is a portrait, a barn portrait. So, like capturing people on the canvas, capturing the essence of each barn’s character was of the utmost importance.”
To say that this project was a labor of love undercuts just how much work it included.
“Gutwein has a distinct process for completing this extensive project. She begins with detailed research on each county, through which she selects specific historical barns. After making contact with each barn owner, she obtains consent to begin the painting process at their location. Gutwein paints en plein air (or outdoors) for several days to capture the correct lighting, color, mood, and character of each barn. Measurements, statistics, and stories are also gathered while on site. From there, Gutwein utilizes photography to record every detail of the barn, from which she can paint in her studio. Until Gutwein feels the project is complete, none of the barn paintings will be for sale. She finds the whole project is greater than its parts” (Fort Wayne Museum of Art).
Her HERITAGE BARNS series of paintings, all 185 (one extra) have been endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Beyond exhibits, Gwen has promoted barns and preservation through interviews, newspaper articles, “barn talks” and more. Currently, the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center is hosting an exhibit, installed through the end of 2016.
To learn more about the HERITAGE BARNS project, see the barns she has painted from each of Indiana’s 92 counties, and discover some of the barn stories she has collected, just visit Gwen’s website and watch the video below to check out her studio!
This guest post comes to us from Daniel Dibner, one of the masterminds (or shoudl we say angels?!?) behind “Hay Trolley Heaven.” To learn more, visit www.haytrolleyheaven.com!
“The Heart of the Barn” is what hay unloaders or hay trolleys have come to be called for well over a 100 years. I am sure that the readers of the Barn Alliance are quite familiar with these iron wonders, as many still are found directly overhead in the older barns. These remarkable pieces of early barn equipment greatly influenced the majority of the barn designs that we see from the 1870’s to around 1930. If one was a practitioner of “modern” farm techniques, one built their barn from plans provided by one of the many manufacturers of trolleys. Prominent manufacturers included the likes of F. E. Myers, J. E. Porter, Louden, Ney and Hunt, Helm & Ferris, all providing (in many cases free of charge) the architectural plans needed to build the period’s most efficient means of moving hay and other crops around, namely the hay trolley. Farmers either built for timber or steel track systems or were left to lift tons of material into the mow by hand. This was all loose hay technology and it all essentially ends with roll-up baling.
Fewer people are aware that even before barns were built to store the mow, hay trolleys were hard at work in the fields. Systems of cables were strung up and America’s countryside was the home to massive hay stacks that were unmatched in size. Trolleys finally were brought into use in barns as modifications were made to move huge amounts of hay within the structures. How the hay wagons approached the barn, at the end or center, made a great deal of difference in the overall design of these iron wonders.
We here at HAYTROLLEYHEAVEN.COM are dedicated to the preservation, cataloging, collection and display of all things related to hay trolleys. When Danae Peckler of the Barn Alliance stumbled on to our website, she reached out to me to ask if our site could be mentioned in your newsletter. The answer was, of course, absolutely! You love barns, we love barns. Our world is an astonishing mix of what is unquestionably the start of something remarkable.
The amount of patents, from trolleys, to forks, to hay slings, to door rollers and much more, all comes from the ever present advancements made during the late 1880’s. All of this was to allow the American farmer to make the great leap forward through technology and efficiencies found in engineering and industry. We believe that these devices represent some of the earliest programmable machines on the farm. Special trips and stops directed these devices to hold or release on the track, drop their center drop pulley or retain them. There were round barn systems, track switch arrangements and a whole host of lifting techniques that changed life on the farm forever.
During the metal drives of World War I and II, much of the old metal was removed from the farm. But, as there were few patriots that would risk life and limb to climb up some 40 feet to bring down a 50 pound trolley all while balancing on then wooden ladders, they are there to be found. We at haytrolleyheaven.com discover new wonders almost every week.
When you come to visit haytrolleyheaven.com you will see the largest cataloging of hay trolleys ever assembled online. The vast majority of Manufacturers, models, advertisements, patents, collection, etc. are presented for the members. There is an active forum that members participate in that gets questions answered, shares pictures of trolleys, restoration tips and a whole lot more. Start with the tabs on the homepage and work your way through the whole website. It is broad and deep and rich with information and data for the beginner to the expert. We have past editions of our own newsletter available online for downloading as well.
We hope that you will take the time to determine if your barn restoration should include the “Heart of the Barn” if there is an indication that one existed there. With literally 100’s upon 100’s of models being attended to by our membership, we stand ready to assist as required. Contact us at “email@example.com” (must have the “underline” between admin and 1) if you have problems creating log in credentials or have general questions.
Dating Barns in Holland Township, New Jersey with Dendrochronology Part 2 – The Results
by Carla Cielo, Architectural Historian, Historic Preservation Consultant, Designer
This is the second article that Ms. Cielo has written on the subject of dendrochronology in Holland Township, NJ. Read the first one by clicking here!
The Historic Preservation Commission of Holland Township, New Jersey, hired Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory to date nine barns with dendrochrolology. This study has been funded in part with grants provided by the New Jersey Historical Commission. It was hoped that a study of this kind would answer questions related to ethnic settlement patterns.
Holland Township borders the Delaware River and Upper Bucks County Pennsylvania to the west and south, the Musconetcong River and Warren County to the north and Alexandria Township and Milford in Hunterdon to the south and east. This location facilitated easterly migration from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The barns chosen for the study were considered to be among the oldest remaining barns of their type in the township. An approximate construction date for each barn (based on the style of framing, presence of hewn and/or sawn timbers, the types of nails used in original materials and various other construction details) was determined prior to the study.
Two major barn types remain in the township:
- The ground-level, swing beam barn is a single-level, side entry barn with three or four bays which typically includes a central threshing floor, haymow(s) and a bay to stable livestock with a hay loft above the stables. The smallest ground level three bay barn is 20’ wide x 31’ long, but 24’ to 26’ wide x 36’ to 38’ long is more common. The ground level four bay barns are about 26’ wide x 48’ long.
- The Standard Pennsylvania Forebay bank barn is a larger, two-level barn built into a bank for convenient access to the haymows in the upper level. The stables are in the lower level. The dated forebay barns measure 35’ wide x 55’ long; 32’ wide x 50’ long; and 30’ wide x 50’ long.
The results of the dendrochrolology study are both exciting and disappointing at the same time; some questions were answered but others remain undetermined. Six ground-level, (three and four bay) swing beam, frame barns revealed the following construction dates: 1794, 1794, 1803, 1806, 1809 and 1812. Note: a 7th ground level barn dated 1787 was eliminated from the conclusion because the date was derived solely from three samples taken from floor joists. The upper framing was not sampled and suggests a later date when compared to the other dated barns. Additional samples may be taken at a later date.
Conclusion – ground barns: The 1790s were the wild west of Holland Township. This was when the tenant farms, which had been leased by an absentee British landowner, were opened for private sale. The results of the dendro study indicate that all of the dated barns, were built after the associated farm had been sold and suggest that these barns were built as an improvement (or as an addition) to the earlier tenant barns. Note: The barn that was eliminated from the conclusion is located on a farm which did not sell until 1813, but since it post dates the Revolutionary War was likely built by the tenant (not the landowner) as an improvement to an earlier barn.
We know that the tenant barns were frame (not log or stone) and that they were built by the British landowners for the tenants from an “account of the expenses of building a barn on the place leased to John Thomson” which includes the purchase of “2000 feet of weatherboards,” “15 days work …. cutting and hauling timbers,” “55 days board,” “32 meals at raising,” “3 gallons rum,” “blacksmith work for hinges and nails,” “work of carpenters £12.0.0,” “masons work,” “2000 Shingles,” etc. The question remains, what did the circa 1750 to 1776 tenant barn look like? Nothing has been identified from this period as of yet.
The dendro study revealed that the earliest remaining barns were built entirely of hewn timbers and the rafter plates have double notched rafter seats. The earliest barn to be framed with single notched rafter seats dates to 1794 but there is an overlap; the other 1794 barn has double notched rafter seats. This indicates that framing details had begun to be simplified by 1794. The use of sawn braces and studs occurred by 1803 and the use of sawn rafters occurred by 1812.
Three Pennsylvania Forebay bank barns revealed the following dates: 1806 (stone), 1821 (frame) and 1825 (frame).
Conclusion – Pennsylvania Forebay barns: According to a late 19th century account, in 1806, Phillip Burgestresser (1778-1841) who was of German ancestory, moved to Holland Township from Tinicum Township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and built a “nice brick house and good barn far superior to that of his neighbors.” This quote suggests that the “far superior” barn was a Pennsylvania Forebay bank barn and that this barn type first appeared in Holland Township in or slightly after 1806. The date of 1806 for the earliest remaining stone Pennsylvania forebay barn supports this conclusion. (Note: Barn historians formerly assigned a circa 1820 to 1825 date for the migration of the Pennsylvania Forebay barn form into Northwest Central New Jersey). The Pennsylvania Forebay barn type migrated into this area of New Jersey from upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania. That study also shows that a much lighter style of timber framing migrated along with the forebay barn form.
Settlement from Upper Bucks County into Holland Township began by about 1750 or earlier. Early communication between Upper Bucks County and Holland Township was facilitated by the presence of a ferry by 1741 and the transportation of iron related resources to and from Durham Furnace which began production in 1727. The fact that the Pennsylvania forebay barn type did not appear in Holland Township until the first decade of the 19th century suggests that the barn type did not reach upper Bucks County until the first decade of the 19th century. However, the Federal Direct Tax of 1792, lists a “35’ x 60’ stone barn” in Durham Township, and a “30’ x 50’ stone barn” in the neighboring Township of Nockamixon which suggests the presence of the larger forebay barn type in Upper Bucks County by the end of the 18th century (further research in Bucks County is required). If this was the case, what delayed the form from crossing the river when communication and transportation was so prevalent?
The dendro study shows that both the smaller ground barn and the much larger Pennsylvania Forebay bank barns were built concurrently for awhile. It would be nice to accurately date a few of the younger ground barns to see how long the smaller barn type persisted.
Reused components remain in several reconstructed barns and are sometimes in an addition to a ground barn. These include rafter plates with double notched rafter seats, posts with a flair at one end reused as a plate, as well as whole sections of reused framing. These fragments may be dendro dated in the future with the hopes of finding some evidence of the type of barn construction during the 1750 to 1776 tenant period.
National Barn Alliance’s 2016 Spring Meeting to be Hosted by Preservation Program at Belmont College in Ohio!
The National Barn Alliance (NBA), whose mission is to protect and preserve America’s historic barns and rural heritage, is partnering with the Building Preservation/Restoration (BPR) Program at Belmont College to offer a unique glimpse into the physical labor and craftsmanship behind saving our barns. The Spring Meeting will be held at Belmont College in St. Clairsville, Ohio, from April 8-10, 2016. BPR Program students will be leading hands-on demonstrations during the conference. The meeting is open to NBA members, but registration is required as available space is limited.
The NBA is pleased to make this connection with one of the country’s leading hands-on preservation training programs, led by Program Coordinator, David Mertz, since 1989. Mr. Mertz also serves on the Board of the Preservation Trades Network (PTN)—an organization that the NBA is partnering with again for their annual conference later in the year. The NBA holds an open Board Meeting focused on the organization’s major initiatives and bottom line each year which also seeks to introduce the organization to a new group of Preservation students at institutes of higher learning. In 2013, this event was held in conjunction with the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and, after a failed attempt due to a snow storm in 2014, with the Historic Preservation Program at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania, in 2015.
Danae Peckler, NBA Board member and Past President, is excited for this year’s meeting at Belmont and the hands-on learning experience that it will provide. “Education, networking, and the physical act of preservation are three of the four tenets in our mission, so this meeting really hits at the core of what we seek to do as an organization,” she observed. “We are thrilled to be hosted by Belmont College and the talented students in its renowned preservation trades program.”
The NBA anticipates a number of representatives from its organizational allies and other preservation groups will also be in attendance. “Our Spring Meeting will be held just two weeks before the Friends of Ohio Barns’ 17th annual conference in Butler County, so together, we hope to increase awareness and support for barn preservation in the state, at large,” said current NBA President, Don Truax. “We want people to realize that historic farms and barns embody the built record of everyone’s story – and our story is worth the fight.”
If you are interested in attending the NBA’s Spring Meeting at Belmont College in St. Clairsville, Ohio, April 9-10, or want to learn more about this great event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Space will be limited, so please remember to register early. NBA Membership forms can also be downloaded from their website here: http://barnalliance.org/join-us/.
The National Barn Alliance in 2015 (as faithfully reported by NBA Vice President, Chuck Bultman)
As 2015 draws to a close we, like many, reflect on our past year. But we don’t just do that and send it to you so we can get a pat on the back, or an “attaboy.” No we do it to keep you informed about where we are focusing our efforts as you may have an opinion about what we are, or are not accomplishing. We welcome your feedback. We also do this to add to the conversation about barn preservation in the hopes that you will be talking about it with your friends and colleagues and possibly get them involved and contributing as well. As you know well this is an important and rewarding activity and we can use all of the help we can get.
What you may not know so well is your NBA Board is made up of volunteers all across the country, all of which are very involved with the state and local preservation efforts where we live, as well as the local organizations that are championing those efforts. We are all knowledgeable about the barns in our respective states, as well as those in some of the surrounding states. As such, when we do talk as a board (which we do monthly) and when we meet in person (which we try to do twice a year) we share our experiences and knowledge that comes from our region. In short, we learn from each other.
It is in that spirit of sharing that we write this article today. And it is that spirit of sharing that the board of the National Barn Alliance commits itself. The NBA continues its commitment to act as a facilitator for people across the country who are interested in saving the barns where they live. We do that by sharing the information we know and have gathered from barn preservationists across the country for many years. We also put people in touch with local and/or national experts to help them with their preservation efforts… much can be accomplished from anywhere in the country.
So in that spirit of sharing last summer the NBA board decided to ‘share’ our annual conference with the newly formed Indiana Barn Foundation at their summer conference; this was just the second year the IBF held a conference. Seven board members made the trip to Indianapolis for three days and participated in a spirited conference of about 75 attendees. It was a well attended and high-energy conference and we met so many nice Hoosiers who have kept in touch over the last six months; we are now resources for each other.
And while we were in Indianapolis, three of us stopped by the Indiana American Institute of Architects‘ office the day before the conference to talk with local architects about barn preservation and possible adaptations over lunch. It was a great opportunity to spread the good word about barns to professionals who may not have old timber-framed buildings on their radar. And again we are now each other’s resource.
Sharing can be contagious. Last year the NBA board voted to financially support an effort to make a documentary about Midwest barns. The movie is to be called The Barn Raisers and is being made by filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films. This film is also being supported by a number of Midwest state barn preservation organizations (OH, MI, KS, IN, IA) as well as humanities councils in those states. But the big deal about this project is that the filmmakers have pulled into the documentary the voices of not only the barn owners but also the many knowledgeable barn preservationists who populate these organizations, including the NBA. The film is due out in late 2016 and we are anxious to see what they make.
Sometimes we share just by showing up. November was the annual conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and was in Washington D.C. The organization has maintained a presence at this conference for more than a decade with six NBA board members attending this year’s event. It was a very nice opportunity to reconnect with the many preservationists we know and some we only know from their work or writings. We also connected with leaders from other organizations who are committed to preservation in one way or another, resulting in a number of potential partnerships for years to come! As always, it was a very rewarding experience for the NBA and our growing network of barn preservationists across the country.
2015 also found the NBA sharing with the Timber Framers Guild, which is dedicated to the craft of timber framing as well as educating young carpenters in this ancient art. Past vice-president, Jeff Marshall, helped to organize and host a gathering of timber framers in his barn-rich county in eastern Pennsylvania. This conference included a barn tour as well as a number of presentations, including one by Jeff. NBA Past President Charles Leik also worked with the guild last year as their Treasurer, recently partnering with the organization to build a new timber-framed structure in his Michigan town of Portland.
Charles Leik has also kept us informed on the future of “the Star Barn” outside of Harrisonburg, PA. We at the NBA were also pleased to hear that in 2015 the Star Barn complex, that iconic Victorian barn grouping that found themselves alone on the side of a highway are finally being saved. Attempts to save these icons of agricultural architecture have been in the works for decades, with a number of NBA board members visiting the site and working to spread the word about their plight. And while we recognize that it is a compromise to move these buildings, we are happy that they will still be in eastern Pennsylvania, and that the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places will continue to recognize them as nationally significant historic buildings. Other sharing endeavors the 2015 to tell you about include facilitating the saving of one of only four octagonal barns that are believed to exist in Michigan, this barn is in Cadillac. A team is being assembled to consult with the community and a fund raising effort is being shaped.
Lastly, we would like to point out an absence in our world. Have you ever seen a U. S. postage stamp that illustrates a real barn? Maybe the T.A. Moulton barn in Wyoming; supposedly the most photographed barn in the country. Or the Star Barn, which is a rock star on the east coast. Michigan’s iconic barn is the D. H. Day barn in Glen Arbor. Or even the eastern Tennessee cantilevered barns that inspired the NBA’s most recent tee shirts. Search any of these and many beautiful images appear. However the U. S. Postal service had never published the image of one of these; or any other real barn. As far as we can tell the Postal service has two stamps with ‘likenesses’ of barns; one red and one white. In 2015 we at the NBA have made the case to the Postal Service that it is time to honor barns with stamps like lighthouses and other iconic working buildings have been honored. It is time. That process however is complicated and opaque. We will not know if, or when, the Postal Service will make this happen. But someone had to make the request. And who better than the NBA?
It has been a good year here at the NBA. Spread the word and ask others to join in the barn preservation movement with us. Historic barns everywhere need our support!
These observations come to us from our resident “barn medium” Jeffrey Marshall, a past NBA VP and current President of the Historic Farm and Barn Foundation of Pennsylvania.
Many current barns represent “Second Generation” structures replacing original, often smaller pioneer structures. In the spirit of Halloween and ghosts, here are two examples of “ghosts of barns past.” The first is located on Woolverton Road, in Stockton NJ. Note the detailed image showing tapered rafters and tie beam are visible and the roughness of the stones at the right–this suggests that we are seeing the interior wall of the original barn.
The second example is located on Dolington Road in Lower Makefield, PA. In this instance, it appears that the old barn was incorporated into the new, larger one, and we are viewing the outside of the original structure.
Dating Barns in Holland Township, New Jersey with Dendrochronology (Part 1)
This month’s post was written by NBA member and Historic Preservation Consultant, Carla Cielo. She has been working hard for many years to raise awareness of historic barns in her area and will be featuring some of the results of this work during the first-ever Dendro-Dated Barn Tour later this month on October 17th.
Dendrochronology which is commonly known as tree ring dating, derives the felling date of the trees that were used to build a structure. At $2,000 a barn, few can afford the luxury of dating barns by this method. So why undertake such an expense? If an approximate date would suffice, the Holland Township Historic Preservation Commission (HTHPC) would be content with the dates assigned to each of the 88 barns that were surveyed and studied in Holland Township, New Jersey and were based on a visual analysis of the timbers, saw and auger marks, nails, framing methodology, and plan. But the commission is after a lot more…
When viewed as a collection of barns in a defined region, the barns reveal a history of agricultural settlement to which dendrochronology can enhance. Holland Township, which borders the Delaware River and the state of Pennsylvania in northern Hunterdon County, was associated with the 1727 Durham Iron Furnace early on, and, as such, supported easterly migration from Pennsylvania. The HTHPC received two grants from the NJ Historical Commission to dendro date 10 of the oldest barns in the township and hopes to answer the following questions from the precise dates:
• When did the Pennsylvania Forebay bank barn form migrate from Pennsylvania into Holland Township, New Jersey?
• Does the earlier ground-level, three-bay, swing beam barn type predate German migration from Pennsylvania?
• Was the ground-level, three-bay, swing beam barn type built during the 1750-90 tenant period?
• Did a much lighter style of timber framing migrate from Pennsylvania along with the forebay barn form?
The results of the first 10 barns tested will be published this fall along with the first ever dendro dated barn tour.
Editor’s note: As mentioned in the introduction, Carla is leading a FREE barn tour on October 17th that will feature several these dendro-dated barns and other structures in Hunterdon County – see details below!
Indiana Barn Foundation and National Barn Alliance Coming Together July 18th to Talk Barn Preservation!
Some of our biggest barn-loving fans are certainly aware of the great strides that the Indiana Barn Foundation (IBF) has made in its first two years, but the NBA couldn’t be more excited to travel to Indianapolis next month for the organization’s 2nd Annual Meeting and Conference at the Normandy Barn of the Indiana State Fairgrounds from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, July 18th. If you missed the NBA in Indianapolis for the 2013 National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference, now is your chance to become a member and buy some great barn-preservation merchandise to show your support for all those who #saveourbarns!
The Indiana Barn Foundation, whose mission is to support the preservation of historic barns, has brought together a wide array of barn preservationists from across the Hoosier State and raised awareness about the value of Indiana’s historic barns in a number of ways, most notably with their lobbying support of tax relief legislation aimed at lessening the tax burden of property owners with historically significant barns! True to fashion, the NBA will also be holding our Annual Membership Meeting that weekend (details to follow via electronic communication to NBA members).
A recent press release from IBF details: “From barn enthusiasts to experts, this one-day event will offer options for anyone who appreciates barns and wants to see them remain part of Indiana’s landscape. Barn owners can learn from a panel of contractors and preservation experts during a Question and Answer Session, and will hear about legislative efforts affecting barn owners.
“The keynote speaker is architect Chuck Bultman, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bultman has adapted over 30 barns to new uses, including wedding venues and event spaces, and has restored barns ‘to just be barns’. Bultman is a board member of the NBA and member of several preservation organizations including the Timber Framers Guild. Attendees will also meet artists and crafters with a passion for artwork that features barns, including painter Gwen Gutwein, photographer Marsha Williamson-Mohr, and Indiana Artisan Dorrell Harris. Indiana Barn Foundation’s plans for a Bicentennial Barn Quilt will also be revealed.
“Other highlights of the day will be a screening of “The Resurrection of a Barn” by IBF member and filmmaker Freddi Stevens-Jacobi, a catered lunch served family style and accompanied by live music, and a close-up look at how barns are constructed with the raising of a scale model wooden barn and also a computer-generated barn model. At 3 o’clock the conference will move to Zionsville, and conclude with a tour of the farm and historic barns of Traders Point Creamery.
“Those who wish are welcome to join IBF and NBA members for an evening meal at Traders Point Creamery in The Loft Restaurant. Dinner is not included in the registration fee, and reservations are recommended.”
Registration cost for the entire day will include lunch and barn tour and will be just $40 per person ($30 for IBF or NBA members). Online registration is available on the Indiana Barn Foundation web site at www.indianabarns.org, under Events. Membership forms can also be found on the website.
We hope you will join us in Indy!