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!
This month’s post comes to us from dedicated members of The Franklin Trust (FLT) out of western Massachusetts — “a non-profit organization that assists farmers and other landowners who want to protect their land from unwanted development.” The NBA is pleased to the growing interest in land conservation as it relates to saving resources of all sorts — including the historic built environment!
The people of Plainfield and of Western Massachusetts are privileged to have had the historic 107-acre Guyette Farm donated to the Franklin Land Trust. Under the supervision of the FLT, this land will be forever protected from development and neglect.
As a community leader in the protection of open land, the FLT is embarking on new ground with the recent acquisition of not just a beautiful piece of farmland, but also an entire farm complete with an antique barn. What is farmland without a farm or without a barn? Sometimes the proper stewardship of rural land involves the proper stewardship of the structures that defined that lands purpose in history.
The Guyette farm is home to an early 19th century English barn, not an average barn, but one full of unique architectural features not commonly found all in a single structure: The 30×40 foot barn is made up of large hand-hewed timbers, intricate English joinery, a steep roof, a five sided ridge beam and robust wind bracing in the roof system. This group of distinctive features defines this building as an early example of a classic English hinterland barn: the singular landscape element that symbolizes early American life.
Fortunately, for its age, this barn has survived with dignity: the core barn structure and even a small ell are in very good structural condition. The barn however is in jeopardy of structural failure and deterioration due to severe foundation issues. As is typical of structures built in the 1800’s, this barn, as strong as it is, was built on a rather poor stone foundation. Time and the cycling of the seasons have taken their toll on the stone structure supporting the barn and leave it struggling to stand straight. With foundation failure comes structural failure: something that is avoidable with proper and timely attention.
The Guyette barn is facing a critical time; it is a valued part of the Plainfield countryside and recognizable by generations of locals. To the casual observer it is a pastoral symbol of rural history quietly growing old in the field, but closer inspections reveals problems that will lead to its rapid decline if not addressed in the near future. This fine example of our agricultural heritage has a lot to offer and is capable of serving many more generations with proper stewardship. The Guyette barn is a barn worth saving and a project the Franklin Land Trust is privileged to have the opportunity to venture into.
If you want to help support the FLT in their effort to #savethatbarn, go to their webpage and make a contribution to the cause! http://www.franklinlandtrust.org/news/help-save-this-historic-barn
NBA thanks Mary Lynn Sabourin, Development Director of the FLT, for submitting this piece for posting on our blog, and the FLT, at large, for working hard to raise awareness of the cultural and historic value of the Guyette Barn and farmstead. To learn more about The Franklin Trust and their good works, visit: http://www.franklinlandtrust.org/
This post comes to us from our Vice President, Jeffrey Marshall – a man that wears a number of hats! Marshall is also the current President of the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania and President of the Heritage Conservancy, a non-profit organization that advocates for saving much of Bucks County, PA’s historic and natural resources. This post highlights Jeff’s latest work to gather lovers of historic barns and timber-framing construction together to marvel at some of the nation’s earliest surviving agricultural buildings. We sure hope you can join in the fun!
For those who missed the NBA Winter meeting held in the snow last month,barn and vernacular architecture enthusiasts can now register for a tour which is being presented as part of the 2015 Traditional Timberframe Research and Advisory Group (TTRAG) symposium on April 18, Lahaska, Bucks County, PA. The cost for the tour only (the symposium is full) is $65 per person, including lunch.
The tour itinerary includes two outstanding Pennsylvania Standard barns on Mechanicsville Road Barn and Tinicum Park Barn, the 18th century English Paxson Road Barn, and theWindy Bush Road double-decker barn. As an additional bonus, the 19th century Stover-Myers Mill with all of its intact mill works will be open. You can register for the tour online http://www.tfguild.org/about/traditional-timberframe-research-and-advisory-group or call Sue Warden at the Guild office, 855/598-1803.
Long-time NBA member, Mona Hennes has put extraordinary energy and effort into researching this beautiful and unique barn that holds a special place in her family history. And the publication she has put together is testament to her diligence! Mona was kind enough to share her masterpiece with us and allow the NBA to reprint a portion of it here. A larger and more detailed article will be featured in the upcoming issue of our printed newsletter, The Barn Door.
Mona is very interested in this barn type and its construction methods, and is eager to identify others like it. If you know of a similar barn elsewhere in the country, please post a comment below to help her learn more!
In 1850, the seven member John Squire Family were among thousands of immigrants who came to the United States in search of a better life. The ship manifest lists Frederick Squire at age 3 when he traveled to America. Frederick grew up in Iowa and Indiana and married Frances E. Dean in 1866. Like hundreds of others, the young couple bravely carved out land as homesteaders in Lulu Township, Mitchell County, Kansas in 1870. Frederick and Frances Squire fulfilled their homestead requirements including building a house, digging a well, plowing, planting crops and living off the land. In the end, they raised a family and became respected Mitchell County land owners who were responsible for the construction of a most remarkable barn in the fall of 1888.
Mr. Squire’s barn was 40′ by 58′ by 32′ high and built by Hamilton Lee Wiley, a contractor from Beloit, who partnered briefly with a carpenter named Eli Pfrimmer Newbanks. A second generation American of French descent, Newbanks grew up in Corydon, Indiana, and came to Mitchell County, Kansas, with his wife’s family as a homesteader around 1871. He was well educated in carpentry and architecture.
During his career, Newbanks worked on large construction projects including The Alpine Tunnel built for the D&RG Narrow Gauge railroad in Gunnison, Colorado. He also worked on projects in Louisiana, Texas and Missouri. For a short time (~1882 to 1886), after the untimely death of his wife Delilah, Eli Newbanks partnered with Hamilton Wiley in his Beloit Contracting Business. Their advertisement appeared weekly in the Beloit Gazette.
In 1884, Eli became the lead carpenter for an octagon barn, built in Scottsville KS, just nine miles north and east of the Squire-Hennes barn. This barn, built for C. W. Culp, owner of Eureka Stock Farm, was the pinnacle of local construction jobs. While the barn no longer exists, it had the same ogee roof design as the Squire-Hennes barn. Winning this contract was a huge plus for Hamilton Wiley’s business reputation. One year later, 1888, Hamilton Lee Wiley built the Squire-Hennes barn for Frederick F. Squire.
In 1893, twenty three years after he homesteaded his farm in Lulu Township, Frederick Squire moved to Beloit and left his 600+ acres of property to be farmed by others. He died suddenly of appendicitis in January of 1899 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Beloit. His properties were divided among his children, with the home farm passing to his son, John. When John Squire left Kansas around 1915, he rented the Squire farm to Caspar Hennes, my grandfather, who was living just one mile west. Caspar Hennes (Grandfather), Fred Hennes (Dad,) and John Hennes (Uncle) farmed the property for the Squire family until ~1928, when Fred and John Hennes purchased some of the land, the farm house and buildings.
My Dad bought out the interest of his brother, John Hennes, around 1943. My brother Jim Hennes farmed the land and cared for the barn until the mid-1970s. He tinned the barn’s roof which probably preserved the structure. My nephew, Mark Hennes, still farms land for the Records family. Howard Records, who lives in Arizona, is the great grandson of Dr. Thomas E. Records, husband of eldest daughter Lora E. Squire.
Here we go again! NBA Board Members and state barn organization partners are volunteering their time and energy to continue the NBA’s presence at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference. This year, the action is in Savannah, Georgia, where we connect with preservationists of all kinds to engage them in conversations about saving America’s historic barns!
What does an urban landscape like Savannah have to offer barn lovers? We think the trip to the South has a lot of potential! The state of Georgia was one of the first to create an historic agricultural context to aid in the evaluation of farm properties for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Anyone can download a copy of this context, entitled Tilling the Earth, and learn more about the types of agriculture practiced historically in the state. Vernacular agricultural studies are also common about students at the Savannah College of Design (SCAD), one of the NTHP’s local partners in conference activities.
Though we won’t be able to bring any of our barn models south this year, we will bring our fabulous 2014 t-shirts with the catchy phrase: “Vernacular is Spectacular: Save Our Barns!” After the conference, these t-shirts will be up for sale to great friends like you – they are sure to make great stocking stuffers for any barn lover!
Until then, plan to swing by our booth if you’re attending the NTHP conference and check out our hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other helpful barn-preservation items to show your support for old barns!
Dear Barn Preservationist:
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is soliciting suggestions for changes to the Census of Agriculture. All submissions are time sensitive and must be received no later than September 30, 2014. Please help the NBA by lobbying the USDA using the following link to their public comment form! Each Comment Form asks for a name, address, email address and your affiliation. Please feel free to note an affiliation with the National Barn Alliance to show your support for historic barns!
If you aren’t sure what to say, please feel free to cut and paste the text we have supplied below:
What new or additional information is needed?
For the first time in the history of the Census, the 2007 Census of Agriculture counted farms that had a barn 50 years or older. Unfortunately the 2012 Census of Agriculture did not have the barn question in it. We are advocating for the re-introduction of the question in the 2017 Census so that we can continue to monitor the numbers of farms that have an old barn on them and compare the new data to the 2007 Census. Please put the “Barn Question” back into the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
Why is the information needed?
Our nation’s old historic barns are an important and irreplaceable historic resources on our landscape. We need to know how many there are and then determine their condition in order to develop programs to support their rehabilitation and re-use. In order to know how many there are, we need to count them. The USDA can and should be a part of this process of documenting the old barns on farms.
We believe that it is important to bring back the same question found on the 2007 Census of Agriculture and count the number of farms that have a barn 50 years or older across the USA. Fifty years is the threshold of age for beginning to consider a building’s historical contributions to the past according to federal standards established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. Consider that at the height of family farms in America, over 26 million farms dotted the American landscape. Most had at least one historic barn. By the 2007 Census of Agriculture we had around 2 million farms and many did not have an old barn on them. The 2007 Census of Agriculture counted just over 650,000 farms with at least one older barn on it. The data was invaluable!
At what level is the information needed? (U.S., state, county)
At the national and state levels and on all questionnaires the USDA disseminates.
Who will use the information?
The American public, the National Barn Alliance, the 50 State Historic Preservation Offices, countless non-profit preservation organizations (statewide, regional, county, and local preservation advocacy organizations as well as barn preservation organizations, farmland, and rural conservation organizations across the country). And don’t forget about future researchers interested in America’s agricultural past!
This guest post by Raina Regan, a preservationist working hard to bring attention to barn preservation at Indiana Landmarks, the statewide “nonprofit organization, fighting to defend architecturally unique, historically significant, and communally cherished properties…” in Indiana. NBA is thrilled to see the dedication of those barn-loving Hoosiers! This Barn Again! workshop is not a new thing for Indiana Landmarks and they sure know how to do it right – don’t miss out on this great event.
Although located directly east of metropolitan Indianapolis, Hancock County, Indiana is rich in agricultural heritage. Driving county roads, you’ll find timber frame barns and steel silos dotting the slightly rolling landscape. This fall, don’t miss Indiana Landmarks’ BARN AGAIN! workshop in Hancock County to explore this historic community while learning about barn preservation.
This day long workshop on September 19 will provide practical solutions from experts on how to maintain, rehabilitate, and adapt old barns for today’s needs. Participants will learn about the history and technology of barns as well as barn maintenance, adaptive reuse, and preservation. Rick Collins of Trillium Dell Timberworks will headline our workshop speakers. The workshop will also highlight a new Indiana law which offers a 100 percent property tax deduction for heritage barns not used for farming or business purposes.
The afternoon will include a tour of four barns in northern Hancock County, providing an opportunity to learn about the design, history, and rehabilitation of historic barns. The tour includes a stop at the award-winning, National Register-listed Frank Littleton Round Barn. The Littleton Round Barn dates from 1903 and is an impressive true circular barn with a 102’ diameter. The barn was commissioned by Indianapolis attorney Frank Littleton, who called upon Benton Steele for the design. Steele had recently built the largest round barn in the state, a 100’ diameter round barn for Littleton’s rival, Congressman Wymond L. Beckett. As the story is told, Littleton had Steele build his barn just a little bit larger, for a total of 102 feet in diameter, so that he could beat out his rival. Constructed by Issac McNamee and Horace Duncan, the Littleton Round Barn still holds the title for largest round barn in the state of Indiana. We’re excited to include the property on our barn tour to highlight this impressive structure which continues to function in an agricultural use.
Other barns on the tour include a depression-era Dairy Barn and an unusual transverse frame basement barn – featuring rusticated concrete blocks cast on site. Our fourth barn is a 19th century timber frame barn, which sits on an early Hancock County farm dating from the 1830s. The tour promises to highlight a wide variety of historic barn types, perfect for anyone passionate about agricultural heritage.
The BARN AGAIN! workshop will be held at NineStar Connect Conference Center, 2243 East Main Street, Greenfield, IN 46140. Cost for the day-long workshop is $45 and includes lectures, lunch, an informational packet, and the barn tour. There is a discounted price for members of Indiana Landmarks. The reservation deadline for the BARN AGAIN! workshop is September 15. Register online at barnagain2014.eventbrite.com or contact Indiana Landmarks at 800-450-4534. Questions? Contact Raina Regan, Community Preservation Specialist, 317-639-4534, firstname.lastname@example.org.