Dating Barns in New Jersey with Dendrochronology

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.

Dendro pic from hunterdon NJ_C.Cielo

Photo credit: C. Cielo

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…

Image Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Wydner

Image Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Wydner

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!

Tour five barns (1787 to 1825) that have been dated with dendrochronolgy;  two ground-level, three-bay, swing beam barns, two Pennsylvania forebay bank barns, and one hybrid.
Saturday October 17, 2015  from 1-4:30
Please call or write Carla Cielo for the meeting place.


NBA 2015 Annual Meeting Details!

Charles Hopf Mail Pouch Barn in Martin County, IN. Painting by Gwen Gutwein

Charles Hopf Mail Pouch Barn in Martin County, IN. Painting by IBF member, Gwen Gutwein

As you may have already heard, this year the National Barn Alliance (NBA) will be holding its Annual Membership Meeting in conjunction with the Indiana Barn Foundation’s (IBF) 2nd Annual Meeting and Conference in Indianapolis, IN.  But we don’t want to take away from all the fun of what the IBF has in store!  So we have decided to hold our meeting on the morning of Sunday, July 19th at 9:30 am.

We will be physically getting together at the hotel that morning (Comfort Inn, 3514 South Keystone Ave, Indianapolis, IN), but – as usual – any NBA member can phone into the meeting via conference call.  NBA members will receive a special email with the details.  Stay tuned!

But if you are considering attending the IBF/ NBA conference in Indianapolis this year, why not become a member of both organizations?!?  We are offering a discounted rate at the conference, and hope that the savings will be a nice way to reward those barn lovers who come out and show their support!  Learn more & register for this great event online by clicking here!

Hope to see you at the Normandy Barn on July 18th!


Don Truax, President, and the NBA Board of Directors

NBA Partners with Indiana Barn Foundation for 2015 Conference

Indiana Barn Foundation and National Barn Alliance Coming Together July 18th to Talk Barn Preservation! 

IBF logoSome 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).

Photo Red Barn With Flowers

Image courtesy of Indiana Barn Foundation

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.

ResurrectionOfaBarn_v5“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, under Events. Membership forms can also be found on the website.

We hope you will join us in Indy!



Bucks’ Barns are Back!

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!

This image of the Paxon Road Barn - one of great barns featured during this TTRAG conference - was taken during NBA's 2015 Winter Meeting.  We sure showed Winter!

This image of the Paxon Road Barn – one of great barns featured during this TTRAG conference – was taken during NBA’s 2015 Winter Meeting. We showed Winter!

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 or call Sue Warden at the Guild office, 855/598-1803.


Barn Again! in Indiana – September 19, 2014

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.

HABS_LittletonRoundBarnThis 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.

Phares Dairy Barn

Phares Dairy Barn

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 or contact Indiana Landmarks at 800-450-4534. Questions? Contact Raina Regan, Community Preservation Specialist, 317-639-4534,