NBA Virtual Lecture #8: “Dendrochronology Demystified”

Presented by Michael Cuba

The National Barn Alliance is happy to welcome Michael Cuba to its virtual lecture series on June 29, 2024 at 7 pm. Michael’s lecture will explore the science of dendrochronology (tree ring dating) and its applied use for dating and interpreting historic structures. Several case studies will be presented including some prominent projects from overseas. While this science can offer conclusive felling dates for timbers used in building, interpretation and context for this information relies on both documentary and physical evidence. Michael will use examples of recent reconstruction projects of the Dominy House, in East Hampton, NY, and the reconstruction of one of the trusses from the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral that was lost in a fire in 2019, to underscore the importance of documentation in preservation work.

The lecture is free and open to the public and can be accessed via the following link,

Originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Michael Cuba moved to Vermont in the mid 90’s where, as a student in college, he first began to hone his woodworking skills. Michael founded Knobb Hill Joinery, with Seth Kelley, to focus on preservation and restoration timber framing while occasionally designing and cutting new structures. He has spent a great deal of time documenting historic buildings, teaching classes, and demonstrating traditional timber framing methods. After moving back to the Mid-Atlantic, in 2013, he founded Transom HPC and shifted his focus toward dendrochronology work and assessments of historic buildings.

Michael is active in the Timber Framers Guild, both as an active member of the Traditional Timber framing Research & Advisory Group and as the editor of TIMBER FRAMING, the Guild’s quarterly journal.  Michael serves on the boards of the Timber Framers Guild, the National Barn Alliance, the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania, the advisory board of Handshouse Studio, and historical societies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.


We are currently updating membership categories as well as payment options. We hope to have everything up and running in the next few weeks along with some additional resources.

NBA Virtual Lecture #7: “Digital Documentation and Dissemination”

You Tube Link: NBA Virtual Lecture: “Digital Documentation and Dissemination”

“Digital Documentation and Dissemination: You Got a Point Cloud, So What”

Presented by Michael G. Spencer

The creation of measured drawings, especially of historic barns, can be a tough sell; yet traditional methods are time-consuming, cumbersome, and costly. While newer, mass-capture methods such as laser scanning offer efficiency in some areas over more traditional methods the technology still presents problems, particularly in usability of data. This lecture will examine some other documentation alternatives such as photo rectification and photogrammetry as well as the variety of ways in which the data can be used and disseminated to assist in the preservation of agricultural structures such as barns, including recent documentation of a log tobacco barn on Booker T. Washington’s farm in southwest Virginia.

The image above was taken from a short video created by Professor Spencer with help from undergraduate students in the University of Mary Washington’s Department of Historic Preservation (link to video above).

Michael G. Spencer is Chair of the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington where he teaches courses that focus on architectural documentation and conservation. His research has involved the exploration of non-destructive technologies such as infrared thermography, as well as new methods of documenting historic structures and evaluation of new platforms for dissemination of that data. Recently this research has centered on photo rectification, photogrammetry, 3D modeling, and virtual reality.

Learn more about Professor Spencer and his work at the University of Mary Washington here!

NBA Virtual Lecture #6: The English Barn in America

Please join us for the next lecture in a series of presentations led by experienced practitioners across the country in support of barn-preservation education on November 3rd, 2021 at 6 pm EST.

This lecture will be hosted via Zoom and is free to all who register.
To register, send an email to RSVP with your name and location (city/county, state) to by Sunday, October 31st. We will send an email with the details to call or login to all registrants on November 2nd, 2021.

November 3rd: “The English Barn: in America: an Introduction to its Layout and Carpentry”

Presenter: Jack A. Sobon

Common throughout most of the Northeastern United States, the English barn was the standard for barns from the earliest settlements up through the mid-nineteenth century.  Mr. Sobon will discuss its origins, its layout and use, and an in-depth look at its carpentry.  The intricacies of the older Scribe Rule system of timber layout and cutting brought here from Britain will be explained as well as the newer Square Rule method that replaced it.

Image of Three-Bay, Side-Entrance Barn (Photo: J. Sobon).
The image above is from “Historic American Timber Joinery: A Graphic Guide,” written and illustrated by Jack A. Sobon, and originally published by the Timber Framers Guild (2002; reprinted 2004).

Jack A. Sobon

Mr. Sobon is an architect and builder in Western Massachusetts that specializes in timber-framed buildings, both old and new.  Since the late 1970s, he has framed over 50 timber-framed structures using only traditional hand tools and often right from the forest.  He has four books to his credit including Historic American Timber Joinery (2002) and Hand Hewn, The Traditions, Tools, and Enduring Beauty of Timber Framing (2019).  He is also the author of a five-article series on The English Barn in America published in Timber Framing where he chronicles the construction of a classic three-bay English timber-framed barn using original construction methods.

Image of Jack Sobon courtesy of Workman Publishing Company