Restoration of a Hand Hewn Pine Barn Frame, c. 1840 – Part II

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Remember this hand hewn frame, made of pine timbers, that we highlighted in last week’s blog? Old Barn home_Original Location Well – the good news is – restoration is complete! After 8 days of focused work with a superb team of seven, the barn is fully restored and in use. Restoration of new england barn home At 21 feet wide x 30 feet long, it spent nearly 175 years protecting hay in a meadow in Benson, Vermont. This barn has had quite a journey since 1840.

We became involved a few years ago when we took down the barn, restored the structure and erected it at our workshop. It was put to good use there, protecting building materials, while we waited for a new owner; and in time the right family came along.

We’ve spent the past two weeks restoring the frame for the new owners in Pomfret, VT. In last week’s blog, I wrote about the process of dismantling and re-erecting the antique timber frame in Pomfret.

I also showed how we applied the roof boards and started on the siding, using materials from another historical barn.

Getting the Arches JUST Right
One of the challenges of restoring this barn was making sure the arched doorways looked just right. The picture below shows the process of creating the arches. Forming the arch on a historic barn_Green Mountain Timber FramesAnd here are some of our talented crew members pondering the arches to make sure they are just right! Green Mountain Timber Frames _Professional Contractors in VermontHere you can see the nearly completed results! Forming the arch on a historic barn_Green Mountain Timber Frames2Applying the Siding
Last week, we put on two layers of siding, one ½ an inch thick and the second one 1 inch thick. We put the two layers on, overlapping each other, to keep the driving rain and snow from seeping through the cracks.

restored siding on historic barn

A close up look at the restored siding

As always – we love to recycle! For this project, we used exterior siding from four different barns and the door is also on its second life. You can see the original barns here on our available frames pagevermont scenic view with historic barnIn the view above, you can see the recycled red roof taken from another barn project we also have in progress.

Reclaimed Wood versus New Wood
Economics and availability often come into play with a project, as reclaimed siding can be four times more expensive than new. In this case, the owners chose to use new siding on the back side of their barn. It is hidden safely from view and can not be seen from the house or the road. Give it another thirty years and it will look vintage, too.

restored historic barn

Rear view showing new siding

Now Let’s Step Inside…
From the interior of the barn, we can see the beautiful hand hewn timbers of the original frame.hand hewn timber frame wooden beams restored timber frame in new englandThe upper loft might make a wonderful overflow guest room in the summertime.

Loft view of restored historic barn home_Green Mountain Timber Frames_Vermont

The Loft

There’s a large, open main level with the relatively spacious half loft. Eventually, a modest stairway will replace the metal ladder that you see in the view below. Internal view of timber frame barnIt was, as always, a pleasure to save another barn – and create a new-old barn for another wonderful client. The point was to have it look like it has been there for one hundred years. Did we succeed? side view of post and beam barn homeThis year has been a busy one here at Green Mountain Timber Frames. We’ve dismantled no fewer than seven barns and houses in the last year and they are each in various stages of restoration.

Want your very own piece of American history? Think that barn living might be for you? Give me a call at 802.774.8972 or email Luke@greenmountaintimberframes.com.

The Prohibition Barn, and Other Tales From the Northern Islands

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Today’s blog is written by a guest blogger and master carpenter, Luke Larson.

The 1780s Prohibition Barn

“My grandfather went to jail because of this barn.”

I was standing in the spacious interior of a beautiful and well-kept barn dating from the 1780s. “Is that so?” I asked, and the gentleman continued his story.

Prohibition Barn Home Vermont

We were on the Lake Champlain island of North Hero, only about fifteen miles from the Canadian border with Vermont. I was there to look at the barn because the owner is considering selling it. I leaned against a twelve foot beauty of a hewn pine post as the story continued…

Map of North Hero Island Lake Champlain

Map of North Hero Island – Lake Champlain

Prohibition lasted in the United States from 1920 until 1933. The manufacture and sale of alcohol was prohibited, which gave rise to a healthy black market with whiskey runners smuggling alcohol south from Canada. As the story goes, friends of the barn owner were involved in this trade and the authorities were hot on their tail. They sped a car full of liquor into the wide eve door of the barn and quickly threw hay down from the loft to conceal the vehicle and its clandestine contents. Unfortunately for my friend’s family, the cops discovered the car under the hay and the owner of the barn (this man’s grandfather) spent time in prison.

But year’s later the barn still stands, remembering those decades ago when it was used to smuggle liquor to Vermonters thirsting for the hard stuff!

Below is an interior photo of the Prohibition Barn. This would make an incredible loft living space!

Loft Living Space Potential

Imagine the hay being hurriedly cast down from this loft to cover the contraband almost 100 years ago!

The Prohibition Barn was the second barn I was to visit on the island. The first barn, on my trip up north, was the Hero Barn and the two barns had a lot in common.

Both barns date from the time of the heroes for whom the Island was named: Green Mountain Boys, Ethan Allen and Ira Allen, among others. Incredibly, both barns are twenty-six feet wide by thirty-six feet long, and both have hand hewn chestnut braces. While it was common in that era to build barns with hand hewn vertical and horizontal timbers, I have come across only one other barn in my work where even the diagonal braces were hewn. It is a good clue as to the very early construction of these barns, and makes me wonder if both might have had the same builder.

The Hero Barn  – A Gunstock Timber Frame

I love the stories that barns can tell, and all the history engraved in them. The gunstock Hero Barn, a few miles south from the Prohibition Barn, has the skeleton of a very early log cabin just feet from the barn. As settlers moved north, they would have quickly erected a structure to live in while constructing the rest of the buildings.

It was the middle of December as a great crew and I carefully disassembled this barn frame, and I quickly understood why the original dwelling was only feet from the animal barn with a covered passage between the two! Oh, the wind it was a blowin’!

Here is a photo of the collapsed log house, with the barn behind it.

Collapsed log house right next to the barn home This Hero Barn, which I now have in stock, is a gunstock frame made with oak and American chestnut. The term “gunstock” refers to the solid oak posts which flare at the top, providing more strong wood for joinery.

This barn has a ridge beam, which is a thirty six foot American chestnut beam in perfect condition.

Notice how the gable rafters are braced to the ridge beam.

This barn has a ridge beam, which is a thirty six foot American chestnut beam in perfect condition. Notice how the gable rafters are braced to the ridge.Below is a classic “signature” of the builders, a daisy wheel displayed top center on the roof boards. Elsewhere on this blog, you can read about the purposes of these daisy wheels. Notice that you can see the original cedar roof through the gap between the boards. The cedar was later covered with metal roofing.

Signature of timber frame builders etched in restored woodHere are a few photos of the process of taking down the Hero Barn:

Historic Barn removal photoRemoving Roof of timber frame barn homeThe photo below shows the gunstock posts and strong chestnut girts. The far post in the photo has rot on the top. I have now acquired another hewn oak gunstock post which I will use for the repair.

Historic New england barn frame for restoration

Collar tie on a gable rafter pair.  High quality joineryBelow is the weathered but strong collar tie on a gable rafter pair. The quality of joinery on this barn speaks to me of heroes perhaps less well known than the Allen boys, who put such quality craftsmanship into these two barns on the island.

High quality joineryAfter careful washing and restoration, this barn will be ready to tell its stories to a new family, and even begin to absorb new tales into its weathered and long history.

——

A tremendous thanks to Luke of Larson Carpentry for sharing this with us!
Contact Green Mountain Timber Frames if you are interested in learning more about either the Prohibition Barn Frame or the Hero Barn!
E: Luke@greenmountaintimberframes.com
P: 802.774.8972

You can read another guest post from Luke when he shared with us the details of a Gambrel barn home in Danby, Vermont. 

Rare 1760s Gunstock Timber Frame Available – Your New Barn Home?

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I first wrote about this very early, hardwood timbered barn back in July and am pleased to announce that it is officially available for sale. This barn is a real gem and the right owner will appreciate living in such a unique piece of history. The post and beam barn is truly an extra fine example of “post medieval construction.” This kind of frame design is the same style that was used in building barns in the 1400s.

antique timber frame home new england

1760s gunstock timber frame

The vertical siding seen above is two layers thick. The barn frame was built using several kinds of wood, including beech, chestnut, pine, spruce and white oak.

Below, you can see an example of the antique wooden posts inside the frame. Note the gunstock posts which taper top to bottom. The posts are 9″x 9″ square at the base and then taper to 15″ x 9 ” at the top, where they meet intersecting timbers.

Gunstock post antique timber frame

Here is a view showing how straight the roof line is after 250 years and 7 tons of slate!
Vintage Barn Home 1760s

The potential barn home has elaborate, overbuilt wall and roof systems. The large beams indicate an early built frame.

5_Roof system is overbuilt

This picture shows the rugged construction of a gable (end) wall section:

Gable wall section of timber frame

Want to learn more about this beautiful piece of history? Contact us!

Consider turning this timber frame into your own barn home! This antique frame would make a beautiful barn home, carriage barn, studio or restored barn. To own this frame is to step back into medieval times!

Luke Larson
Luke@GreenMountainTimberFrames.com
Tel: 802.774.8972

The price for the restored frame includes erecting it on your foundation with roof boards applied. The siding boards are part of the package but would not be applied. The slate roof can be included, upon request.

Can you help save this old timber frame house from being demolished?

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This grand timber frame home will be demolished in February….UNLESS a new owner is found. Known as the Hod-Hepburn house, it has stood on a back road in Tinmouth, Vermont since about 1780.

Side view of historic houseThe two-story home is a great example of post medieval construction. It’s a trusty farm house that has weathered 234 New England winters. We hope to find a new owner interested in having Green Mountain Timber Frames take down and restore the hand hewn frame. This beautiful structure could be erected on the client’s site, with a custom layout to fit today’s needs.

The frame features rugged rafters as you see below.

gunstock timber frame post and beamHere is another shot of the principle rafter system:

timber frame roofWhen we visited the house, we found all sorts of treasures inside, including….

history found in old barn homethese magazines from the early 1900s and…storage in historic new england house…a TV from the 1960s!

We don’t know the exact date the house was built, but the house was referenced in local deeds from the 1780s, so we are assuming it was built by then. The truth is, it may be even older!

Here is a picture from the house taken around 1950.

Vermont Timber frame house 1950sHere is a nice winter shot of the back of the homestead:

Historic Barn Home in snowInterested in learning more about this “Vermont Republic” home and perhaps making it your own? For more information, please contact me!

Green Mountain Timber Frames Goes West!

Here in New England, I have been restoring timber frame barns and building barn homes for many decades. Recently, our little company was able to venture further afield. Like Lewis and Clark did two centuries ago, we too have at last reached the west coast.

We restored a colonial era barn – seen below at its original location in Hartford, New York – and sent it off for a new future in Snohomish, Washington.

External view of hartford barn

Original barn in Hartford, NY (pre-restoration)

So how did this come about? 

Just over two years ago, we hired a web design company to redo our website. In addition to creating our new site, they have helped us spread the word about what we do. Suddenly, instead of relying on word of mouth here in Vermont, Green Mountain Timber Frames has found itself with an international audience of timber enthusiasts, history buffs and potential clients. Our little local mom and pop shop has gone global.

Thanks to the success of our site, we can now restore old barns here in New England and then ship them all over the country for reassembly. We are so grateful that our audience has grown and that we can find people across the country – and the world – to help us in our goal of preserving New England heritage and historical structures.

side view of timber frame barn home

Side view of the 1791 barn (in original NY location)

So tell me about this frame!

The frame itself was built around 1800, just a dozen years after the U.S. Constitution was signed. It was originally a corn crib and an unusual one at that. It has four different levels which add up to a total of 1000 sq. ft

Multi level timber frame

Notice the multiple levels of the frame

While the old barn originally measured 16 x 18 feet, a 16 x 13 foot addition was put on a few decades later. (Hence the different floor heights.) The original timber framer was quite clever and talented. He artfully joined the floor systems together with various stairs.

It was common during this period for corn cribs to have living quarters where the hired help would sleep. I suspect that was the case for this frame.

For this most recent project, we found an owner in Washington State who shares our passion for history and our dedication to preserving historic structures. So while moving the frame to Washington did take the barn far from its New England roots, we are grateful that the timbers have been restored, re-erected and valued. Without the support of the new owner, the frame would likely have been demolished or burned.

Here is the restored frame loaded onto a tractor trailer – board by board – ready for the long journey west.

Vintage timber frame on tractor trailerBack in the fall of 1805 when Lewis and Clark (with the help of Sacajawea) were just finding their way to Washington, they could not have imagined that one day a humble New England barn would follow in their footsteps.

Vintage timbers in transit

Vintage timbers in transit

And here is the frame, re-erected beautifully in Snohomish, Washington.

Reerected timber frame in Snohomish WAWhat will the frame be used for?

The restored frame will be used as a storage barn in its new location. We shipped the frame together with the original barn siding, roof boards, slate roofing and flooring. In fact, much of the contents made their way west as well.

Below you can see the beautiful wooden floor boards:

Wide pine floor in corn crib

Wide pine floors

Inside the barn, we found over 50 beautiful wooden dovetailed boxes. They had never been used and were very finely made, so we sent them along as well. We also salvaged horse tack, vintage bottles, hand tools, and other varied knick-knack paddy-wacks.

Various contents of timber frame shipped with frame

Various contents of the barn shipped with frame

We also found two early wooden barrels that were clearly built before 1800. We could tell the barrels were early because they were made with sapling bands as opposed to the usual metal bands.

Early wooden barrel with sapling bands

Early wooden barrel with sapling bands

A Happy Ending

So while we are a bit regretful that the frame left New England, mostly we are thrilled that it has found a new home – with appreciative owners – and that this frame will stand tall for decades to come.

Now we just need for the famous Washington State rains to abate so that the talented builders out in Washington can finish rebuilding the barn.

Snohomish Timber frame with slate roof

Notice the slate roof. Tarps protect the frame while we wait for the rains to stop

It’s been an exciting project.  Through it I have also learned the skills of shipping long distance and was fortunate to connect with an excellent commercial trucking company which I can depend on in future.

Want some more information about this frame, or others? Be sure to contact me to talk timbers!

Greene and Greene Gazebo Gets a Facelift

Remember that Greene and Greene style timber frame gazebo I was working on a few months back? Well it’s been a busy summer and in the meantime, the gazebo has received some TLC in the form of new landscaping. Here is a picture of the frame in its purist form, but with cement block showing:

Timber Frame Builders in Vermont Make Gazebo

Greene and Greene Style Timber Frame Gazebo

Since we last saw this beautiful frame, the masons finished the stone work. This helps to ground the structure and ties it in aesthetically to the surroundings.

Post and Beam barn homes and gazebo

Finished masonry on Greene and Greene Gazebo

This week, we will be adding the top soil around the post and beam frame, and in the coming weeks the owners will plant grass seed and flower beds to complete the project.

Greene and Greene Historic Post and Bean Homes

It’s truly a special timber framing project and I enjoyed working on this beautifully designed timber frame. While I tend to work more with restored frames from post-colonial times, working on this frame was a lot of fun and I enjoyed learning more about the Greene brothers and their work.

We would be love to hear what you think of this frame and our other projects. Please take a look at the other available timber frames for sale at our shop! If you are interested in a barn style home, please contact us.