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

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Welcome to the heart of spring in Vermont!

Last week in Pomfret, Vermont, beneath a canopy of new leaves and apple blossoms, we tipped up another beautiful timber frame barn.  Below, you can see the barn as it originally stood in Benson, Vermont.

Old Barn home_Original LocationThis hand hewn frame, made of pine timbers, stood 21 feet wide x 30 feet long and was originally a meadow barn, built in the 1840s. We took it down a few years ago, restored the structure and erected it at our workshop. We used it to store materials until recently, when it was chosen to fit the needs of a new owner.

The goal of this barn restoration project is to erect the restored frame and finish the exterior and interior walls with seasoned barn boards. The owners want this “new” barn to look as if it has called the Pomfret site its home for at least 100 years.

It’s no easy task to restore a timber frame, but the work is exciting and rewarding. This past week, the crew of seven experienced timber framers made good progress each day, intent on creating “visual drama” for the new owner, and getting the job done.

Step 1: Dismantling the Old Frame

Here we are dismantling the previously restored frame to re-erect it in Pomfret.

Dismantling of timber frame barnOnce the frame was dismantled, we loaded it for transport to its new location in Pomfret.

Step 2: Re-erecting the Frame

3pm_historic timber frame from 19th century

We were able to put the 175 year old beams back together in our first day’s work.

Step 3: Putting up the Roof System

The next step was to put up the roof system and roof boards. Since this frame stands 25 feet tall, we had to install a temporary work platform to reach the roof peak.

green mountain timber frame vermont home construction
Setting up the roof system

From our safe perch on the temporary floor, we carefully set the roof rafters and applied the roof boards.

Timber frame barn home construction
Restored barn frame with roof boards applied

Step 4: Putting on the Red Roof!

The next step was to put on a recycled red roof. For this project, we took the roofing from another barn project we also have in progress.  I love it when we are able to salvage old wood or materials from one job and use them on another. One person’s trash is indeed another person’s treasure in my line of work.

Below is our third day of progress.

newly applied red roof historic wooden beamsRestored barn home with red roofStep 4: Applying Exterior Siding

On the fourth day of our efforts, we started applying the vintage siding. We’ll show the finished product in our next blog. Stay tuned!

Pomfret restored barn frame with siding———————–

Every dreamed of living in a centuries old barn? Want to save a piece of New England history? Let me know!  I’d love to hear from you!
— Dan McKeen

The Bitter-Sweet of Mud Season Barn Restoration

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Mud Season – the bitter/sweet time of year.

While the temperatures have at long last inched their way above the zero mark, here in rural Vermont the ground is still solid. Timber framing in the famous mud of New England’s spring beats the challenge of working in snow squalls and sub-zero temps, but it’s still not for the faint of heart!

Sure, our winter coats and work gloves have been shed but now we must muddle through our work area.

Mud Season in Vermont Building restored barn homes

Proof that mud season has arrived

As more snow melts, the damp ground slowly releases the grip of winter, churning out a soft, murky surface under our feet that you can sink into up to the ankles.

Construction continues nonetheless, so we throw down a carpet of hay to make the work area easier to traverse. Timber Framing in the Mud Vermont

There is, of course, a wonderful silver lining. Not only is old man winter behind us, but best of all, mud season means the maple sap is flowing! Cold nights and warm days bring the sweetness of spring.

Sugar house in maple season_Stacy Birch Photography

Sugar house in maple season – Photo by Stacy Birch

Summer Restoration – The 1780s Corn Crib Revisited

I’ve had a busy spring and summer, restoring a number of vintage timber frames that were originally from Ira, Vermont and picking up a few other projects in between.

You may remember this corn crib that I first wrote about back in November. I am happy to report that we found an owner for this frame and its new home is in northern Vermont.

Vermont Post and beam corn Crib

Corn Crib from Ira, VT

While relatively small at only 450 square feet, this lovely, hand hewn beech wood frame boasts two floors.

Restoring timber frame roof

Dismantling the crib.

With the help of a wonderful crew, Green Mountain Timber Frames has carefully restored this frame – down to every detail including the famous signature stairway.

Restored Wooden Stairwell

Restored Wooden Stairwell

Here are a few pictures of the frame during the re-erection process:

Reerecting historic barn Old Barn Restoration

We were able to save most of the original roof, wall and floor boards on the interior, so the barn will maintain much of the look it had when it was built 240 years ago.

We wish the owner many happy days and nights in this new-old out building. Freshly restored, it can now be of use another two centuries.


I really value historic structures and am always looking for the gems – the true diamonds in the rough. Do you have an old barn you want to sell? Are you looking for a timber frame to turn into a beautifully renovated home? Please give me a call: 802.774.8972.


Restoration Continues on the Gunstock Timberframe

Memorial Day Weekend in Middletown Springs, Vermont

Work on this gunstock treasure continues and I am enjoying every second of restoring this frame.

I consider my role in this as that of a connector – a lucky link in a historical moment bridging a timber framer who lived centuries ago and spent months chopping, carving and erecting this beautiful hand hewn frame and the future owners who will build lives beneath these old timbers once again.

Who will live amidst these timbers? What joys will happen under this roof? Children will be born and raised. Generations will come and go – with these old growth timbers standing sturdily by as silent witness.

On Friday, we spent much of the day applying the original white oak roof boards back to the frame.

Next, we installed a roof from recycled metal (actually, it’s four roofs, over its lifetime) that had been on the barn when it was dismantled. We’re using black plastic in the interim until more metal roofing can be applied. The plastic has helped keep the frame dry during last week’s 5 inches of rain, but the metal will be more secure until we dismantling the frame in November. We will keep reusing the metal roofing on future frames as temporary rain caps until these available frames find a home.

Applying roof Boards to restored timberframe in Vermont

Applying roof Boards to restored timberframe

Applying roof Boards to Timber Frame 3

Roof boards and plastic sheeting to protect restored frame

With all the rain this past week, covering the roof with plastic allowed me to sleep at night. Over the rainy weekend we headed back to the Pawlet property to take more metal roofing  off of a shed (about to be torn down) that was attached to the gunstock frame. Armed with this added metal roof materials, we have all the ingredients we need to complete the roof.

Interior Roof Structure on Gunstock Restored Timber frame

Interior roof structure of restored timber frame

Interior of Roof Structure on Vintage Timber frame

The photos above show the roof structure from the inside. Those large roof beams are the principal rafters. You can also see the horizontal tie beams and bracing between principal rafters. These beams support the smaller rafters which are all covered by white oak roof boards we applied on Friday. 

Restored Timber Frame with Roof Boards

Restored Timber Frame with Roof Boards

What a beauty!( Okay – except for the lawn which I know needs mowing.) Here you can see half the roof boards and I think this shot does the old timber frame justice – look at the potential of this lovely structure!

Stay tuned: Next week we will focus on completing the roof boards and installing the rest of the metal roofing. This frame will be fully restored and ready to host summer events here at Sissy’s Kitchen.

We’re even planning on using some vintage planks to make three harvest tables with benches, which will sit beneath the restored gunstock timber frame.

I have to go now and mow the floor. Guests are coming……………………….

If you would like to visit any of these barns – or learn more about all the details (I can always talk barn) please let me know. I’m trying to help out the owner and find someone to love these old frames and all of the magical history they hold.