Posts Tagged "preservation"

Book Review: Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Barn Preservation, Books, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Book Review: Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement

Book review by Charles Leik, Chair of the National Barn Alliance.

It was at the National Barn Alliance’s (NBA) 2009 Shaker Hill, Kentucky conference that I first learned about the phenomenon of Quilt Barns. Several Kentucky ladies gave an enthusiastic presentation and the next day as I drove serpentine secondary roads northward to the Ohio River I saw perhaps a dozen of the “Real Deal” –8’ x 8’ squares of a favorite quilting pattern on weathered barns.

I already had an acquaintance with quilting as I recalled mother and her friends working at the quilting frame set up in our parlor in the early 1950s. The ladies seated around the frame chatted while with practiced skill made small, uniform stitches to sew the pattern to the batting.

In addition to this tenuous connection to quilts I have been long engaged in preservation of our heritage barns and anything that draws attention to these endangered structures and causes them to be maintained is a positive for me.

With this background I was pleased to learn that the Ohio University Press, Athens released in early 2012 a volume devoted to the history of the quilt barn movement.

The book printed on high quality paper with dozens of captioned photographs is everything that a lover of traditional folk culture could desire. Author Suzi Parron and barn quilt pioneer Donna Sue Groves take the reader to the origins of the Quilt Trails in Appalachia and then to other states, particularly those of the Heartland. There are individual chapters on Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan as well as chapters devoted to local events in which the author participated.

The reader meets the dozens of local heroines (and heroes) who organized the Trails in their communities. I was pleased that a photo of the quilt art on the owner’s barn accompanied the discussion of a pattern and its personal importance to the family.

Cindi Van Hurk, Michigan is representative of the many quilt trail pioneers in stating, “The Alcona County Quilt Trail Project has a very positive impact on our economy, while also fueling community pride within all areas of our county.”

This reviewer was happy to read the author’s conclusion that, “An unexpected benefit of the project has been the preservation of barns and other farm buildings.”

Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement is highly recommended for a quick education of this art genre and for aficionados of American vernacular architecture. Barn Quilts is a 240-page paperback at $29.95 by Swallow Press/Ohio State University. Order from University of Chicago Distribution Center, 11030 South Langley Ave., Chicago, IL 60628 or call 773.702.7000.

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Hidden in Plain Site: Side-Gabled Log Barn

Posted by on Apr 14, 2012 in Featured Barn, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Hidden in Plain Site: Side-Gabled Log Barn

This is a guest post by Jeroen van den Hurk, Ph.D. He is an Architectural Historian based in North Carolina.

You never know what the lush climate of North Carolina hides until the dead of winter. While out of a drive on Sunday afternoon, I came across this abandoned side-gabled log barn in Halifax County, NC. This is an unusual building for eastern North Carolina. It was a one-story, double-pen or dogtrot structure used to store hay. It appeared to be an earthfast building with the log sill laid directly on the ground.  The logs were halved and saddle notched at the corners, and there was evidence of pegs near the center of the walls to keep the logs together.  The plate was hewn, and there was evidence of both cut nails and wire nails, suggesting that the barn was at least 100-years old.  The rafters may have been replaced at some point and the roof was clad in a standing-metal seam roof. One of the gable ends still had the original weatherboard siding, whereas the other gable end was covered with standing-seam metal.

Time, storms, and neglect had taken it’s toll, but it was still standing.


More photos of this barn:

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The Grooms’ Heritage Barn. How a Family Restored their 1915 Stockman’s Barn

Posted by on Mar 23, 2012 in Barn Preservation, DYI, Featured Barn, The Barn Journal | 3 comments

This is a post by Charles Leik. Charles is chairman of the National Barn Alliance.

It was James Grooms’ great-great grandfather (five generations back) Martin Becker, a German immigrant, who settled in north central Nebraska (Cherry County) in the 1880s.  He built a typical barn for this ranching and diversified farming area that housed the cattle, work horses and several cows that produced milk for family use.


According to family lore, this first Becker did well given high wheat prices during WWI and as a result raised his second barn around 1915, which was a very large barn for the area.  Mr. Becker soon retired and passed the ranch and barn to his daughter Anna and son-in-law Edgar J. Grooms.


During the ‘dirty 30’s’ the barn was lifted up and set down by a tornado. At that time, it was disassembled, turned to face a different direction and rebuilt with the addition of large side sheds that highlight the changes in farming occurring. It also lost one of the cupolas.  In the 60’s a metal-covered north shed was added, which provided ample space for the growing cattle feeding operation and move from diversified farming. At this time James’ grandfather George and his sons entered the purebred Angus bull business, i.e. sold select breeding stock for other ranchers.


By the 80’s, like so many other western barns, the deterioration was underway as the cattle feeding operation changed and purpose built pole barns were constructed.   First it was the loss of the cupola from high winds and then gradually the prairie winds blew off the wood shingles installed in 1933.  Fortunately the foundation was of poured concrete and dated from this same reconstruction, thus the structure was solid.


In 2007 the Grooms family decided to rescue the barn, the centerpiece of the 26 Ranch and repository of so many memories.  In the winter of 2008 a replacement cupola was constructed on the ground.  Dimensions were determined from old photographs and in the spring a crane raised the module at the gable end to a location past the hay hood, and “come alongs” winched the cupola mounted on skids along the ridge to a central location.


The weathered wood shingles were gradually replaced with a metal roof.  Family members did the labor over the Memorial, Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays.  The roofing began with the west top level and the pressure mounted after the old shingles were removed in stages. As a level was stripped, the steel had to be installed before the end of the holiday to cover the exposed deck.  Four weeks were required to do the west side (the Memorial Day and Fourth holidays) and after gaining experience, only two weeks on the east side (Labor Day).


James, who lives 600-miles away in Kansas City built window sills, moldings, some of the four-pane windows and some doors at his residence during the winters.  He worked hard to save a number of the original windows and their unique period glass. This leaves barn siding repair (to be complete in part with reclaimed wood from another Becker barn!), painting and replacement of detail trim for the future.  But as James says contemplating the future, “she’s high and dry and time is on our side now.”


James stresses that except for the rented crane, that family members provided all the labor.  “There was no way we could afford or justify the labor to install the roof.  However, after a slow start my father, Alfred, and I became pretty adept at installing steel.  And, all the rest is pretty much basic carpentry”.


The James family took an intimidating job and divided it into segments over a number of years that made it both manageable and affordable.  James, a passionate barn lover, concludes that, “I tell everyone…that you can do this yourself”.

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Attend The Annual Conference! Joint Conference with the Friends of Ohio Barns.

Posted by on Mar 19, 2012 in barn education, Barn Preservation, Conferences, DYI, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Attend The Annual Conference! Joint Conference with the Friends of Ohio Barns.

Example of Keynote Speakers Scott Carlson

Join the Friends of Ohio Barns for their thirteenth annual conference in collaboration with the National Barn Alliance! It will be an entertaining and informative conference and barn tour on April 27th and 28th, 2012 in Summit County, OH. Summit County is home to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Cuyahoga Countryside Conservancy Program.

Homebase for the conference is the Clarion Inn & Conference Center (240 E Hines Hill Rd, Hudson, OH 44236; phone # 330-653-9191). The barn tour will include some of the barns in the conservancy as well as learning about the program from Darwin Kelsey Executive Director of the Cuyahoga Countryside Conservancy Program. Founded in 1999 as a way to rehabilitate old farms and put them back to work under the guidance of the Conservancy. It has been a very successful program on many levels and Mr. Kelsey will have a lot to say on the subject. We also have a panel of farmers from the program, including Alan Halko,Daniel Greenfield and David Wingenfeld, to talk about their experiences and how they fit into the Conservancy Program.

The Keynote Speaker will be Scott Carlson, timber framer, woodworker, and craftsman extraordinaire. Although Scott would say, “I’m just a simple carpenter” you will find that is not the case after seeing some of his work. Scott graduated from the University of Montana as a forester, which has immensely helped him in the woods to find just the right trees to craft his cruck frames. We are thrilled to be able to have him take us on a journey from “Tree to Frame” on Saturday at the conference.

History buffs will thoroughly enjoy David Snider from Somerset, Ohio. His topic for the conference is titled Agricultural Juggernaut: “The Jeffersonian Agrarian Vision meets the best damned farm ground on God’s footstool”. David is from a long line of barn builders, lumbermen and Ohio pioneers. He is a graduate of Hocking College and Ohio University and works as a modern agricultural structure designer/builder. He is a past president and trustee of the Perry County Historical Society and an unreconstructed devotee of early Ohio History. A must see presentation.

Of course the conference would not be complete without the Barn Detectives, Rudy Christian and Larry Sulzer. They will be available on Friday’s tour to point out unusual joinery and well as present their findings at the conference on Saturday. The annual member meeting will be conducted during the lunch break and the silent auction will be ongoing all day as well as other exhibits, demonstrations and vendor presentations.

Conference Registration Information

Full conference package includes Friday chartered bus tour, morning coffee and donuts, catered lunch, and tour booklet; Saturday conference
presentations/demonstrations, conference booklet, continental breakfast, and buffet lunch.Saturday only package includes presentations/demonstrations, continental breakfast, buffet lunch, and conference booklet.Ohio Friends/NBA member conference fee – $130
— Spouse/Partner – $100
Non-member conference fee  – $150
— Spouse/Partner – $120
Saturday only member fee – $80
— Spouse/Partner – $70
Saturday only non-member fee – $100
— Spouse/Partner – $90
You can register online or send in via mail

Reduced rates for Early Registration (before March 31):

Full conference, member fee – $110
— Spouse/Partner – $90
Full conference, non-member fee – $135
— Spouse/Partner $115
Not a member yet? Become one! Friends of Ohio Barns or National Barn Alliance
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Michigan Barn Tour. Beauties of Central Michigan.

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in barn education, Barn Preservation, Featured Barn, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Michigan Barn Tour. Beauties of Central Michigan.

The wind mills worked overtime as a cold wind whipped over the Michigan landscape as snow flurries fell from clouds. Both reminded everyone on the Michigan Barn Preservation Network annual conference bus tour that it was still winter. While the winter was cold, the mood on the tour was warm and excited to see beautiful barns.

There were nine barns on this all day tour. Every barn has a story.

1. Auto-Owners Insurance Company Barn. This barn was originally built to house dairy cattle and contained one of the early milking parlor systems in Michigan. It is one of the very few Gothic style barns in the greater Mid-Michigan area.

The Clare & Judy Koenigsknecht Barn

2. The Clare and Judy Koenigsknecht Barn. This barn was rescued from burn down. It was Clare’s childhood barn where he did chores and played. When he heard it was threatened, he jumped into action. After overcoming family concerns, it became a family project. In order to save the barn, it had to be moved. The Koenigsknecht did just that.

The Noel and Sandy Stuckman Barn

3. The Noel and Sandy Stuckman Barn. This farm complex was beautifully and painstakingly restored to it it’s former glory as it looked in 1915 when the Boss Family built it. This bank barn is typical of the post and bean construction used on many barns on the region. The addition of a refurbished Aeromotor windmill finished the farm out.



The Lewis and Georgianna Alspaugh Barn and Carriage House

The Lewis and Georgianna Alspaugh Barn and Carriage House.

4.The Lewis and Georgianna Alspaugh Barn & Carriage House. When the Alspaughs purchased the farmstead, both the gambrel rood barn and traditional style farmhouse were in poor condition. The barn was built in 1901 and had 10 stanchions for milking cows, a granary, and space for hay/straw storage. They lovingly restored the barn and added a carriage house built in the 1980s with a combination of traditional and modern building techniques.

The Chuck and Rosella Lonier Barn.

5. The Chuck and Rosella Lonier Barn. This small bank barn is typical of the barns in this area built between the last 1800s and early 1900s being of post and beam construction. The basement part had room for six to ten cows, two to four horses and one to three pens for holding other livestock. A silo was attached to one end of the barn.


The Shady Lodge Farm Barn.

6. The Shady Lodge Farm Barn. Owning a centennial farm, caring about the heritage of a large barn and adapting it to modern agriculture, presented a real challenge to the Lonier Family. They converted the two-story gambrel roof barn into a one-story storage facility with great success.



The Shady Lodge Farm Barn.

7. The Ron and Jill Albert Barn. Jill Albert is a third generation owner with fond memories of growing up on the farmstead her family moved to 1891. This could be called the “Story Book Farm” with its not-so-bank barn with its gable roof and all the unique little farm buildings. The barn and outbuildings house Jill’s antique business.





Peckham Farms Barn.

8. Peckham Farms Barn. The barn has a traditional Michigan barn look with white trimmed cross-buck doors, small pane windows, ship’s prow overhang, and roof cupolas; however, it is a modern build. The barn is part of the Peckham Industries newest venture in providing people with disabilities career training.





The Haussman Construction Company Barn & Office (The former Creyts Brothers Farm).

9. The Haussman Construction Company Barn & Office (The former Creyts Brothers Farm). This massive barn was a landmark for those traveling along the road between Detroit and Grand Rapids. Originally there were two barns that sat at right angles to each other and were joined together and a wood silo was added at one end. The barn was one of the few in the area to have carbide lights installed along with running water. Today it is used for storage.

This barn tour highlighted the diversity of barns in one region of Michigan. Thanks to the barn owners who opened their doors to about 100 people!




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