Bucks County Community College Sets Rural Stage for NBA’s 2014 Winter Meeting!

**Our 2014 Winter Meeting was canceled due to inclement weather, but the NBA is trying to partner with BCCC once again in 2015!  This time around, the meeting will take place on February 21-22, 2015.

This guest post comes from Patricia Fisher-Olsen, Coordinator of the Historic Preservation Program  and lecturer at Bucks County Community College (BCCC) in eastern Pennsylvania.  This year BCCC has agreed to host the NBA’s Winter Meeting at their 200-acre Newtown campus where several of the school’s NRHP-listed buildings have been re-adapted to serve as classrooms – enhancing the learning environment for all its visitors!  From 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, Saturday, February 15th, the NBA’s Winter Meeting is open to the public.  We encourage any barn enthusiasts in the vicinity to join us as we learn more about barns in the region and what all the students at BCCC are doing to save them!  The lecturers are free though small donations to help cover the cost of lunch are welcome.

In 1991, BCCC became the first school in the country to offer a 24-credit Certificate Program in Historic Preservation and since then the campus program has grown and expanded online, offering students the unique opportunity to complete their Historic Preservation Certificate entirely over the Internet. Students opting to take courses on our Newtown campus will find them immersed in a working preservation laboratory. Classes and lectures are taught in buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, surrounded by historic landscapes and formal gardens. Students opting to take courses through our online campus will find themselves immersed in the preservation laboratory of their own communities.  The online courses are designed to leverage the historic resources in all areas of the country.

BCCC Students at Work Documenting Best Barn.

BCCC Students at Work Documenting Best Barn.

In 2008, Bucks students won the coveted National Parks Service/American Institute of Architects’ Charles E. Peterson Prize, which annually recognizes the best set of measured drawings prepared to Historic American Building Survey (HABS) standards by college or university students.  At BCCC, the HABS program operates as part of the institution’s Historic Preservation Department.  The program offers students the opportunity to measure and record the architectural details of historic structures as they exist today, before they are further altered by time, nature and people.  By studying clues, such as the changes in mortar and other materials applied to a structure, HABS students document both a building’s history and the history of the people who made the changes.

Since 1991, Bucks County Community College faculty member, Kathryn Auerbach, has led several teams of HABS students as they measured and documented historic structures here in Bucks County and across the country.  The recorded findings of the students, many of whom have no previous architectural or building experience, have become part of the collection at the Library of Congress to be used for future research.  The college competes for the best architectural measured drawings of a historic American structure in the Charles E. Peterson HABS Prize Competition sponsored by the National Park Service, the American Institute of Architects and the Library of Congress.

Measured Drawing of Best Barn, Frederick, MD.

Measured Drawing of Best Farm Stone Barn, Frederick, MD (BCCC 2008).

The yearly contest is highly competitive, with entries from architecture and design programs at nationally recognized universities. Several of BCCC subsequent HABS classes have gone on to secure a Honorable Mention,  4th place, 3rd place and even 1st place in the competition. In 2008, BCCC – the only community college entrant – won a highly coveted 1st place award for their work with the National Park Service on the Best Farm Stone Barn, located on the Monocacy Battlefield in Frederick, Maryland.

In Bucks County during the 1930’s, many of the HABS projects involved old stone barns that were very prevalent in this part of the country.   Today, thirty percent of the barns that were documented no longer exist.  Without the HABS sets of measured drawings and photographs, no evidence would exist of some of Bucks County’s beautiful stone barns, nor of the people who built and used them.

Students who participate in the HABS class at BCCC not only learn about historic architecture but also develop important problem-solving skills.  Many of our HABS drawings will be on display during the National Barn Alliance Winter Meeting.

Restore Oregon Holds Inaugural ‘Sustaining Heritage Barns’ Workshop

This post submitted by NBA Board Member and Secretary, Gina Drew, of Oregon.  In addition to her work with the NBA, Gina chairs Restore Oregon’s Heritage Barn Taskforce, studies timber-framing construction methods, and restores architectural elements. 

Workshop participants at the Knotts-Owens barn. Photo credit Drew Nasto

Workshop participants at the Knotts-Owens barn. Photo credit: Drew Nasto

September was a very exciting month for those involved in barn preservation efforts across the state of Oregon.  Restore Oregon’s Heritage Barn Taskforce held their first ever inaugural ‘Sustaining Heritage Barns’ Workshop, and it was a resounding sold-out success!  This is so inspiring because it underscores what those of us in the state passionate about preserving barns and other structures within our rural agricultural landscape already knew – that despite Oregon’s having previously lagged behind the rest of the country with respect to a unified presence on the barn advocacy scene – there remains a strong, healthy and vibrant community of people who care about maintaining these remarkable historic icons.  Registration was open to all, and the participant base formed a diverse group of barn owners and enthusiasts as well as those in the field of historic preservation and others in city planning. 

City Planner Jacqueline Rochefort receiving broad axe instruction from David Rogers during hewing demonstration. Phtot credit Gina Drew

City Planner Jacqueline Rochefort receiving broad axe instruction from David Rogers during hewing demonstration. Photo credit: Gina Drew

The workshop was a two-part day long event that was divided into a morning session of visual presentations and an afternoon full of hands-on demonstrations and barn condition evaluations.  The first half of the day was held at the repurposed Walnut Barn, owned by the City of Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department, which is now used as a community rental event space.  The afternoon was spent at the 1870’s Knotts-Owens farm barn, recently listed on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List for 2013.   The historic farmstead and barn are situated within 312 acres of agricultural land, hardwood forest and wetlands.  The property was purchased by a joint partnership of the City of Corvallis, Greenbelt Land Trust and Samaritan Health Services, and will become part of the city’s open space program and trails network.  The farm and barn are key elements of the future Conceptual Plan, which may include creating ‘living history’ demonstrations of historic agricultural practices and other educational heritage programming via interpretive stations woven along the site.  The workshop helped raise the awareness and importance of barn preservation efforts while applauding the strategic collaborative efforts of the organizations involved in promoting the conservation of our rural architectural resources.

Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian for the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation, was on hand to provide insight regarding Washington’s successful Heritage Barn Registry model as well as discuss an overview of NW barn typology.  A representative of the Oregon SHPO also covered information on federal and state rehabilitation tax credits.  Attendees were delighted to have an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and try their hand at swinging a broad axe during the demonstration on hand hewing timbers.  A wide variety of historic hand tools and planes were used to explain traditional methods of carpentry and window joinery.  The present structural condition of the barn was studied and assessment principles on how to approach a barn restoration/reconstruction project were identified.

Historic hand tools and plane demonstrations. Photo credit: Gina Drew

Historic hand tools and plane demonstrations. Photo credit: Gina Drew

The Heritage Barn Taskforce looks forward to supporting more workshops, tours and events that will engage and educate the public on the critically important role that barn preservation plays in nurturing the livelihood of our statewide rural historic resources.

Have you met Barny from Kansas?!?

Barny is the most colorful member of the Kansas Barn Alliance (KBA), and he is on the move!  You might have seen him already at a KBA workshop, or spotted him investigating historic barns in advance of repair work… Barny likes to strut his stuff around every barn he sees, but he appears to prefer the historic ones – we at the NBA suffer from a similar condition.

Brokesh Barn 3

Pictured: Brad, and his son, Kolbe, Holmsten from West Chester, PA; Russ Holmsten from Daytona Beach, FL; family friend, Andy Brown from Overland Park, KS, and Barny, of course!

Earlier this summer Barny dropped by the barn-repair crew at the Brokesh Barn in Republic County, Kansas.  This barn restoration is truly a family effort with determined kin travelling from as far as way as Florida and Pennsylvania!  The rest of the remarkable story will be in the next Kansas Barn Alliance newsletter, The Rural Icon.

He recently found himself on the window sill of a stone barn at the Hanson farmstead in Cloud County, Kansas, where this 20’x30′ limestone building will be tuck-pointed and have windows & doors installed, so Barny took advantage of the photo opportunity!

Hanson stone building 9.2.13

Barny at the Hanson farmstead in Cloud County.

This incredibly photogenic rooster has been charming his way into many barn and farm events as of late.  Word has it that Barny got the Early Bird Discount and is already registered for the KBA’s BarnFest’13, a two-day conference on October 4th and 5th in Marion County (for further details, visit www.kansasbarnalliance.org).

Barny also plans to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Lawrence, Kansas, on October 12th and 13th.  The KBA will have a booth there to share information on barn preservation and reuse, and Barny will be on hand to take your questions and pose for pictures with all his barn fans!

It’s true what they say, “Life is never dull in the world of Kansas barns!”  The NBA would sincerely like to thank Susie Haver for sharing updates on all of Barny’s latest adventures, and the wonderful group of Kansans in the KBA hard at work supporting barn preservation in their state!  

A Student’s Review of the NBA/UMW Winter Meeting Collaboration

Group of UMW students who made presentations for the NBA Winter Meeting

Group of UMW students who made presentations for the NBA Winter Meeting

Guest post by Catherine A. Brau, a Historic Preservation student at the University of Mary Washington (UMW).  Our sincere thanks to Ms. Brau and the rest of the UMW and UDel students who participated in the Winter Meeting Presentations and shared their findings with us!  

Barn lovers!  The National Barn Alliance Meeting was hosted on campus February 15th – 17th.  The National Barn Alliance is a non-profit organization committed to preserving America’s Historic barns while seeking to educate the public on efforts to preserve barns.  They encourage the documentation of barns and support preservation organizations and programs.  The meeting was a great opportunity to network with fellow (barn enthusiasts) preservationists and learn more about one of our more precious vernacular resources – barns.  Historic barns – and farmsteads in general – are truly becoming a thing of the past as a result of commercialization and evolving technology and the poor maintenance of outdated or unnecessary structures.  More importantly, barns are typically not the focus of surveying and documenting efforts.

During the conference, students were able to present their research from the Fall 2012 course Agricultural Preservation with Professor Michael Spencer.  Students learned all they could about barns before being set loose to survey and document three local farmsteads – the Houseworth Barn and Arlington Carriage House at Montpelier and Flintshire Corncrib and Granary in Caroline County.  These structures differ in their use and styles, and only the Houseworth barn is still functional, but all three are excellent  examples of 19th century vernacular construction.  Since a majority of texts concerning agricultural buildings refer to national trends, it was interesting to view what was happening on historic farmsteads at a local level (and of course was all the more important to record!).  I personally hope to see this course grow in the future as it offered some great practical and networking experience and really highlighted the importance of vernacular preservation (the first barn my group was supposed to document fell over in a bad storm!).  The National Barn Alliance members in attendance were excited that a younger generation is interested in continuing barn preservation and wanted to learn as much as they could about the student research and local agricultural structures.

While us students put in some hard work researching the farmsteads, we have to send a big THANK YOU out to Professor Spencer and his wife Danae for their knowledge about barns and for the networking opportunity with the National Barn Alliance.  While most of us get the opportunity to be involved in some kind of research with the department, it is a rare occasion that we are able to present said research to our fellow preservationists outside of the department.  These kinds of opportunities, of course, are dependent on us the students – so have fun researching and support your professors when they want you to share it with others!


Timber Framers Guild Conference October 17-21

Timber Framers Guild is holding their 2012 Eastern Conference in Leesburg, VA in the beautiful National Conference Center from October 17 until 21.

They have an amazing program organized with diverse workshops around timber framing. Such are the offerings:

– History of Timber Framing

– Timber Framing Design with StretchUp

– Fifty Shades of Green

– Timber Framing for Commercial Construction

There will be fun activities… music, fun, and axe throwing!

The Timber Framers Guild is a partner organization with the National Barn Alliance.