Recently, we wrote about our crew’s journey to Vermont’s North East Kingdom, where we disassembled 4 old barns from the Daniels’ Farm. In this sequel, I’ll explain how we removed the siding from the timber frame structures, show images of the beautiful marks we found on the wood, and share some details about the history of the area.
How We Removed the Siding from the Gunstock Frame
After we disassembled the 26×50 cow barn, we moved on to the large gem of a barn in this Waterford “family.” It is a magnificent 32×42 foot timber frame that we will be restoring and relocating.
We started by removing the incredible wide siding boards. We labeled each one so that it can be returned to its rightful spot once we find a new home for this frame. The original boards on this frame are water sawn, and oh-so-nice.
Witch Hexes and Daisywheels
We made a great discovery on one of the corner boards. When we removed it, we found that a witch hex had been inscribed on the board and then hidden where the board was on the post.
The story goes that this hex was meant to ward off evil spirits. We have been coming across this daisywheel mark quite often lately, but it is usually placed carefully over a doorway or in the center of a roof system. I am so curious why it was hidden away in this case! Was there disagreement among the crew and the property owner about the appropriateness of the mark when the barn was being built? Was it hidden on purpose? We will never know.
How We Dismantled the Old Barn
We began building our work deck high up in this barn. We build a continuous platform with planks, plywood, and supporting studs so that we can safely work up inside the rafters. While doing so, we finally got close enough to this board that I had been eyeing from the ground floor:
It is a replacement roof board, as we can tell by the circular saw blade. (You can see an original just below it with vertical saw marks.) This is an important clue as to the age of the barn. If we are reading this date correctly, it means that roof boards were replaced in 1867, indicating that at least one generation of cedar shake roofing had deteriorated by that date, and probably deteriorated badly as indicated by the need to replace some of the boards. Cedar shakes on a barn with good air circulation will last 30 to 50 years. This clue seems to confirm our current working theory that the barn was crafted sometime around 1820.
We also found this antique graffiti on a wallboard:
Perhaps we will be able to figure out who W.H. was, and what part he played in this barn’s story.
It was very exciting to reveal in greater light the beautiful and sound structure of this barn. The corner post in the next photo measures 15-inches wide at the top. The hand-hewn braces create such an engaging aesthetic.
The barn came with a beautiful horse-drawn dump wagon in it. This buggy is tired, but we look forward to restoring it for display purposes once we get it back to our shop. I love the color!
Making New Friends in the North East Kingdom
While in the area, I had the great opportunity to attend a meeting of the Waterford Historical Society. It was delightful to meet other folks who care deeply about the embedded history of our places and architecture.
This particular meeting was held in a structure that started out as a tavern and inn around 1820, the same time that our gunstock frame was built just a couple miles away.
In the 1880s, a large brick addition was added to expand the living quarters. The property has recently come under new ownership after some time of neglect, and it was exciting to hear about the planned repairs and refurbishing that the space will have coming. What a joy it was to tour this building!
Want to know more about these barns?
The GMTF crew dismantled 4 historic barns up in the North East Kingdom and several of them are for sale. For more details, contact us: