I recently stopped on my countryside meanderings at a favorite historical place: an old brick church located not far from our Vermont timber frame shop.
Matt was with me in the truck, and we both were struck by the calm and peace in the air when we stepped out. The church sits on a very quiet intersection of two farm-lined roads.
A Testimony to the Past
All was quiet at this 1826 church, but there were plenty of signs of past bustle, living and dying, and a way of life that revolved around the local community. The sky was amazing on this mid morning, and I imagined the lives that were centered here nearly two hundred years ago, many of whom no doubt now rest in the cemetery behind the church.
Looking carefully around the yard of the church, Matt noticed the faint sign of the horse and buggy drive that circled from the side and across the front of the church, now grown over in the neatly trimmed grass, but showing the shadows of days past. We commented that we could almost hear those horse hooves and the sound of parishioners greeting each other as they tied up their horses for the service.
The Timber Frame Carriage Barns
Beside the church, there are two amazing carriage sheds, and these were the original impetus for us to stop and visit this site. They are remarkable timber frame structures from when the church was built in 1826, and they have drawn my eye for years because of their simplicity, pragmatic purpose, and their beauty.
The carriage barns sit on the hillside between the church and the cemetery and were once used by churchgoers to “park” their horses and carriages while at services.
The historic barns‘ hand-hewn timbers are mixed species, but the majority are pine. Chestnut was used for some of the timbers closest to the ground, no doubt chosen for its rot resistance.
It was amazing to see how the timbers have survived for nearly 200 years, despite being open to the weather for so very many decades. Of course, the beams are weathered, but thanks to the density of old-growth timber, and the structural shoring up that has been done over two centuries by the community, they stand strong and true.
Matt and I were so inspired by the simple elegance of the construction, and our imaginations went right to wondering when the last carriage had been backed into one of these stalls.
Why I Love Timber Framing
One element in the design of these carriage sheds spoke straight to the source of my passion for timber framing. The craftspeople who put these buildings in place were seeking to work with nature – not to change it or overly manipulate the natural materials. As a visual example of what I mean, notice the flow of the carriage barn in the next photo as it relates to the land on which it sits.
The land went downhill, so the framers simply adjusted the post lengths in order to achieve a level eve and roof.
This concept speaks volumes to me about the character and world-view of the framers who put these old timber frames together. Our historic barns here in New England have survived centuries because of this approach taken by the craftspeople of yesteryear. Timber frame structures, sitting on stone foundations, can breathe and move with nature, and I am grateful that they have lasted to teach me life lessons beyond my craft.
~ Luke Larson
At Green Mountain, we have a passion for restoring historic timber frames and we’ve got some sweet, old barns for sale.
We would be happy to answer any questions you have. You can email or give us a call at 802.774.8972