Agricultural Architecture

NBA Launches Virtual Barn Preservation Lecture Series

Posted by on Aug 6, 2020 in Agricultural Architecture, barn education, Barn Preservation, Events, Virtual Presentation | Comments Off on NBA Launches Virtual Barn Preservation Lecture Series

Join us for a series of virtual presentations led by experienced practitioners across the country in support of barn-preservation education

All lectures will be hosted via Zoom and are free to attend – open to anyone with an interest in learning more about historic barns!

The first presentation in our series – to be held Wednesday, August 12th at 6 pm EST – is entitled, “How to Speak Barn: the Language and Nuances of Barn Anatomy and the Language We Use to Describe Them.” See the description below for details.

To register for this event, send an email to RSVP with your name and location (city/county, state) to info@barnalliance.org by Sunday, August 9th. We will send an email with the details to call or login to all registrants on August 11th.


August 12th: “How to Speak Barn: the Language and Nuances of Barn Anatomy and the Language We Use to Describe Them”

Presenters: Jeffrey L. Marshall and Michael Cuba

Keywords: Barn Terminology, Barn Types, Outbuilding Identification, Timber-Framing/Historic Construction Methods and Techniques, NRHP-Evaluation, Criterion C

Working in preservation in an agricultural context requires uncommon expertise. Barns and other farm buildings require a specialized vocabulary and a working knowledge of the historical evolution of design and use. Learn the lingo, how to recognize change, and how to evaluate and describe elements necessary for National Register designation.

The language used to characterize our barns has varied from person to person and publication to publication over the centuries. Efforts to develop a coherent and unified way of describing these buildings have come far over the past few decades.

This lecture will explore appropriate terminology and the precedents that support this language. The more familiar we become with common nomenclature, the more effectively we are able to share our observations with one another and the easier it is to evaluate particular barns in context with similar barns.

Although this lecture is geared towards architects, engineers, preservation contractors, cultural resource professionals who may not be familiar with barns and general barn enthusiasts, everyone can learn from this exploration of historic farm buildings!


Jeffrey L. Marshall serves as President of the Heritage Conservancy based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, leading its efforts to conserve and preserve more than 15,000 acres of open space, farmland, wildlife habitat, and important watershed areas, along with many cultural historic assets in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Jeff has over 40 years of combined experience in land protection and historic preservation, and has authored several books on the architecture of southeastern Pennsylvania.
He has been a leader on the National Barn Alliance board of directors for over 10 years, serving as Vice President, President, and currently as Past President. He also serves on the boards of the Historic Barn & Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania and Preservation Pennsylvania.

Michael Cuba is a co-founder of Knobb Hill Joinery, a historic preservation company in northern Vermont focused on traditional restorative joinery techniques. He also operates Transom HPC, a small consulting firm offering dendrochronology coring services, research, and documentation for historic timbered structures. 
Michael is an active member of the Traditional Timber Framer’s Research and Advisory Group. He has served in various leadership capacities with the Timber Framers Guild and currently serves as editor, along with Adam Miller, of the Guild’s quarterly journal, TIMBER FRAMING.
In 2019 Michael was elected to serve as the secretary of the National Barn Alliance’s board of directors.

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Dating Barns in Holland Township, New Jersey with Dendrochronology (Part 3)

Posted by on Jun 24, 2018 in Agricultural Architecture, barn education, Barn Preservation, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Dating Barns in Holland Township, New Jersey with Dendrochronology (Part 3)

By Carla Cielo, Architectural Historian, Historic Preservation Consultant, Designer, and longtime NBA member.  Two articles on this dendrochronology project have been previously published in the Barn Journal. Check out both stories: Part 1 & Part 2!

(The Historic Preservation Commission of Holland Township, New Jersey, hired ‘Oxford Tree Ring Dating’ 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.)

The first barn dated with dendrochronology in Holland Township was the Hammerstone Barn – a ground-level, three bay, heavy-timbered, swing beam barn that is located in the hilly section of the township about 8 miles inland from the Delaware River. This preliminary dendrochronology study was completed in 2007 by a colleague who provides dendrochronological services as a side venture. Only 3 samples were taken from the floor structure in a crawlspace: one from a girder that supports the joists at midspan in the crawl space of the west bay and 2 from floor joists. No samples were taken from the main barn frame. Samples were sent to a lab for analysis. The dates were non-conclusive: sample #1 dated 1787, sample #2 gave no date, and sample #3 dated 1785. The possibility of a 1787 construction date was assumed.

After dating six other ground-level, swing beam barns that ranged in date from 1794 to 1812, the 1787 date was questioned. The character of the framing of the Hammerstone Barn looks far more advanced (younger) in its construction methodology than barns that dated to the 1790s. For example, the interior bents of the 1794 James Salter Barn are framed with just two unconnected cambered tie-beams. Whereas in the Hammerstone Barn, struts and passing braces are incorporated into the swing beam bent to join the upper and lower tie beams. This is characteristic of the ground barns that dated after 1803 in Holland Township. It was, therefore, decided to date the barn again using a professional dendrochronologist who operates his own in-house lab. The findings were interesting, to say the least.

This time 7 samples were taken in the barn: 3 from the upper barn frame and 4 from the floor joists (including one joist that had been sampled previously). Two samples revealed that the trees from which the timbers were cut were felled during the winter of 1803/04 suggesting that the barn was built in the spring of 1804. The five remaining samples, unfortunately, could not be dated. The 1804 date, however, is “right on” when compared to the construction details of several other dated barns.

To add further interest, the data was run again on the three samples that were taken in 2007. One of them did indeed date to 1787. Another matched the chronology of the sample that dated 1787 up to 1758 with a “t-value” of over 11. The “t-value” provides an indication of the quality of the match against a reference chronology. A t-value greater then 5 indicates a regional match; above 10 suggests that the samples came from the same tree. In this case, the t-value over 11 indicates that two joists were cut from the same tree and that the sapwood was probably lost from the latter sample. Does this indicate that at least some of the joists were reused from a 1787 structure? Or does it indicate that the sapwood was lost from both samples and that both would date to 1804 if the sapwood remained? Since the core drills appear to have been lost, we likely will never know. It is surely tempting to fantasize a former 1787 log structure being reused as floor joists! But if this was the case, wouldn’t a 1787 date have been re-identified by the second dendrological study?

In conclusion, dendrochronology is a highly valuable tool, but it must be part of a comprehensive study which takes into account a variety of methods to date a building (saw cut, nails, framing methodology etc.). Propagation of a false date can be detrimental to future barn historians.

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Saving the Iconic Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake

Posted by on Dec 21, 2016 in Agricultural Architecture, Barn Preservation, Featured Barn, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Saving the Iconic Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake

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

Barn History

Circa 1968 View of South Side of Dairy Barn

Circa 1968 View of South Side of Dairy Barn

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.

Recent Activity

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.

North Side of Dairy Barn (Photo Credit: Kendra Van Cleef)

North Side of Dairy Barn (Photo Credit: Kendra Van Cleef)

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

 

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Artist Documents Diversity in Barns of Indiana

Posted by on Oct 31, 2016 in Agricultural Architecture, Barn Art, barn education, Barn Preservation | Comments Off on Artist Documents Diversity in Barns of Indiana

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.** 

Parke County: THOMPSON-HELEN JO WHITED ROUND BARN

Parke County: THOMPSON-HELEN JO WHITED ROUND BARN (Built between 1888-1891, brick foundation and horizontal siding)

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.

Orange County-BOWEN FAMILY BARN (One of the oldest and most unique in the state, possibly a hay press barn)

Orange County-BOWEN FAMILY BARN (One of the oldest and most unique in the state, possibly a hay press barn)

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.”

Sullivan County-DRAKE FAMILY BARN (Built in 1936 with oak and walnut harvested on the farm)

Sullivan County-DRAKE FAMILY BARN (Built in 1936 with oak and walnut harvested on the farm)

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).

gwen-logoHer 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!

 

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The Heart of the Barn

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Agricultural Architecture, barn education, Barn Preservation | Comments Off on The Heart of the Barn

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!

trolley 2

 

“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.

trolley 1

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.

trolley 3

 

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.

trolley 4

 

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 “admin_1@haytrolleyheaven.com” (must have the “underline” between admin and 1) if you have problems creating log in credentials or have general questions.

trolley 5

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