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

Possible – Beautiful Barn Home from Benson, VT – Available Frame!

I am helping the owner of this finely crafted timber frame find a new owner. The frame, originally built in the 1870s stands a majestic 32 feet wide and 48 feet long.

1_Exterior view_original purple slate visible repairs noticeable from lighter slate color - Copy

The large barn is in good condition and could make a stunning barn home, restored barn, studio or gallery. With so much space, there are a lot of options. There is 1500 square feet of space with an additional 750 square feet of potential if we add in a loft.

5_Partial loft floor joists noticeable_ potential for 750 sq ft loft - Copy - Copy

Notice the partial loft floor joists – great loft potential!

One added feature is the slate roof. Since Benson is in Vermont’s “slate belt,” this frame boasts an unusual purple slate roof that is of the best quality that you can find in the region.

In the picture below, you can see the wide gable wall which stretches 32 feet. The roof pitch is 12-12. This is one reason it feels so big inside.

2_Gable wall is 32 feet wide_roof pitch is 10-12 - Copy - Copy

Both the roof boards and wall boards are in excellent condition and the frame features long timbers that are hand hewn. The posts themselves are sawn.

Some more interior pictures below. Notice the beautiful honey color and the well preserved vertical wall boards.

Timber frame roof boards

4_Interior color is honey brown_ nice vertical wall boards

historic post and beam home

Interested in living in a historic property? Have questions?

Please give me a call at 802.774.8972. This post and beam frame could really make a one-of-a-kind barn home and we are looking for just the right owner to preserve this beautiful frame.

Controlled Collapse of Ira Barn – on video!

Remember the old Ira Barn we have oft-written about?

The original barn had three parts: the main frame we wrote about earlier, a 32-foot frame that we are currently working on dismantling, and a third, 14-foot timbered section on the far end that was not salvageable.

Below is a picture of the old timber frame – to help jog your memory!

Timber Frame Barn in Ira VT

Timber Frame Barn in Ira, VT

While this isn’t our usual MO here at Green Mountain Timber Frames, it was too dangerous to dismantle this small section by hand so we organized a controlled demolition. In my over 30 years of experience in timber framing, I have never before done this kind of demolition before. In this case, however, the safety concerns warranted this more dramatic approach.

We first salvaged material from the failing section of the barn. In the picture below, you can see us using a tractor to remove equipment from the barn before the controlled collapse.

Controlled Collapse of Timber Frame Barn

Controlled Collapse of Timber Frame Barn

We then used a block and tackle, a maple tree and four chains in order to do the demolition of the small timbered gable end section. We captured the whole thing on video! You can view it below, or on our new Green Mountain Timber Frames YouTube Channel!

As you may recall, we also found some vintage horse-drawn equipment in this old barn. When we last wrote, the equipment was soundly frozen to the ground, but with spring’s thaw, we were able to remove the equipment. Here are some of the treasures we found inside: Horse Drawn Equipment from Ira Old Barn

 

Top Five Reasons to “Go Old”

For those of us who have been restoring old timber frames for years, the magic of these buildings goes without saying. But in the more than 30 years since founding Green Mountain Timber Frames,  I have often been asked about the benefits of “going old.” Many customers wonder about the reasons to buy and restore an old frame rather than building a brand new timber frame which replicates the style of a certain era.

Timber Frame Restoration in new england

Timber frame during restoration in Rupert, VT

Timber frame Old Barn restored in Vermont

Post restoration, the completed barn

For those of you who may be considering restoring an old New England barn – or any historic building for that matter – this blog is meant to highlight some of the best reasons to go old.

So here they are – in no particular order – my own assessment of the top five reasons to invest in restoring a vintage timber frame!

1) Respect for History

The United States of America is a relatively young country. In many ways we lack a rich architectural heritage like that of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. As our society moves ever faster, we tend to put an emphasis on consumerism and acquisition, promoting what’s new and forsaking the old.

It is up to us to preserve the historical artifacts that remain from our not-so-distant past.

The old barns that dot New England’s landscape tell of a time when colonialists from Europe ventured across the vast Atlantic in hopes of creating a better life for their families. They and their decedents built these barns, and also fought in the American Revolution and Civil War. It is these same people who created the foundation of our society today.

The structures we preserve at Green Mountain Timber Frames are the homes they lived in, the storehouses that kept their grain dry and the barns that housed their livestock. It is these historic barns that are disappearing, dissolving slowly into the landscape as they fall into disrepair and neglect, or are simply torn down. By saving and restoring an old barn, we are doing our part in preserving the history of this country for generations to come.

2) Preservation Matters

In a society where new things are acquired constantly from box stores, outlets and through Internet transactions, we tend to forget that resources are limited and that not everything, always will be replaceable.

By restoring historic timber frames, we are doing our part in preserving some of the most precious resources of our world. We are reusing wood of the finest quality rather than cutting down new trees and letting old frames rot.

And in addition to the physical preservation, we are preserving stories as well – and a way of life and a style of construction that has long since been replaced by more modern techniques.

3) The Unmatched Elegance of Old Wood

The hand hewn look and feel of old wood cannot be replicated in a building made of new posts and beams. The patina that surfaces after old hand hewn beams have been washed varies greatly, depending on the type of wood: chestnut becomes honey blond; pine becomes dark golden. These beautiful textures cannot be manufactured. Like fine wine, the craftsman’s original art improves with age.

While it may not be scientific or measurable, there is a real sense of magic that comes from living in a building built centuries ago. The romance and the history have soaked into the timbers and each restored barn brings with it a special feel – an energy that seeps through the walls or flickerings of memories from previous owners. Even the finest replicas cannot quite capture the special feeling that comes from living in a historic building.

4) Trees – they don’t make them like they used to!

Timber frames built before 1800 were constructed from trees that had never been intentionally grown and harvested. The forests were “original,” the trees hundreds of years old. In steep contrast to these old growth trees which boast 40-60 growth rings per inch, today’s trees have only 6 to 10 growth rings per inch and are intentionally planted and farmed. The old trees stood close together, allowing for the tight growth rings to form. Structurally, old growth wood is a very different timber with far more strength and fewer knots. The factory wood used today simply cannot compete.

5) Timbers tell stories

Listen carefully and every timber frame will reveal stories about its past. In some frames we have restored, these stories are told in newspapers stuffed between timbers or old coins found buried beneath the floor boards. In others, there are old numbering systems to be deciphered on the original timbers.

Restored word in a colonial post and beam frame

Note the markings on the timbers

Often times, when I first come to visit a historic property, the current owner will tell me a bit of the history of the building. Handed down over the generations, these buildings hold stories of love and family, of tragedies and miracles. Just this past week, I wrote in my blog about the Ira, VT barn that miraculously survived a fire in the early twentieth century.

Each barn comes with its own unique story, a collection of physical evidence and memories that can be felt, heard and learned over the years. Part of the fun of living in an old timber frame is learning about the specific history of that barn. I always enjoy exploring this history together with my clients and trying to uncover as much as I can by speaking to previous owners and neighbors and by making careful observations of the wood.

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Do you think I missed a good reason to restore an old barn? Let me know and we’ll add it to the list!

1880s Vermont Vintage Barn for Sale

Exploring a new old barn is always fun for me, but it’s especially nice when the frame is a local one and needs little restoration. I do this work because I am passionate about preserving the heritage and craftsmanship of New England. Each barn we are able to rescue feels like history is saved, at least another 100 years or more.

While I’ve been doing this for decades, I still feel the same thrill each time I find a vintage barn in reasonable condition, restore it and transform it for a new owner who will enjoy it for decades to come.

This post and beam barn, dating from the 1880s, comes right from my hometown of Middletown Springs, VT.

middletown springs vermont barn houses

1880s Barn for sale from Vermont

The vintage frame measures 18’x30’ and is built from sawn 8″x 8″  timbers. The person who built the barn used traditional post and beam joinery and the timber frame structure features 4 bents and 3, 10 foot bays.

The interior design is a bit unusual – part corn crib and part something else. My best guess is that the other part of the barn was used as a cheese house or perhaps as lodging for hired help. You can see in the picture below that this separate section of the barn was finished with plaster. I’ll ask around town with the octogenarians, they might remember something from the 30s or 40s.

barn homes vermont - interior

Plastered section of barn interior

While the barn is currently in Middletown Springs, VT, the current owner is hoping that we can find a new owner to enjoy this piece of history. I am happy to help transport it to a new location in New England or New York.

The barn has a beautiful slate roof that is in great condition. It stands 1 and 1/2 stories tall. The floor boards are also in great condition and the half story measures 2’8” making for plenty of head room on the second floor.

vintage post and beam barn

Upstairs interior view of 1880s barn

This old barn is for sale –  – and with 1100 square feet of interior space, it offers lots of possibilities. It could make a very nice first home, a workshop, studio or camp.

For someone looking for a bigger space, we can easily add ten-foot shed additions, which would increase the first floor living space to 28’x38’.

If you are interested, please do let me know! The frame comes complete with siding, roof boards, floor boards, and the slate roof.

post and beam barn for sale

Middletown Springs, VT historic barn for sale

Want to check out this barn or another available timber frame we have in stock, please contact Green Mountain Timber Frames!

Barn Raising – A good week’s work

We had a great time last week getting this vintage timber frame up in Manchester, Vermont. The post and bean frame with hand hewn wood was originally built around 1800, in Middle Granville, NY.

It was a beautiful week and we worked surrounded by the vibrant colors of near-peak foliage and under the watchful eye of Mount Equinox in the background. Thank God,  the weather was perfect!

Here are some pictures showing the highlights:

Manchester VT Raising - Beautifully restored timber frame beams

Beautifully restored timber frame beams

Saturday Restoring Historic Timber frame

Last Saturday’s work – restoring the frame and getting the primary timbers up

Saturday Timber Framing in Manchester VTAfter erecting the main timbers over the weekend, we spent last Monday focused on placing the roof rafters. We also pegged most joints in the frame with wooden trunnels.

Restoring Historic barn in Vermont

With help from a Grade All, and the view of Mount Equinox in the background.

Here we are installing the roof rafters.

Vermont Timber Framing with Mount Equinox in Background

Adding Roof Boards to Manchester Vermont Timber Frame

Adding roof boards to timber frame

Applying roof boards to Vintage Timber Frame

Adding tar paper over roof boards, as we installed the original boards.

Outhouse in Rural Vermont Best Part of Timber framing

An important part of setting up a timber framing work site: moving the outhouse – at arm’s length –  to the proper location.

Finishing Barn Restoration

The completed roof, protected by tar paper.

Waiting for the perfect frame for your barn style home?

Remember This Beauty of an Old Barn I Wrote About Awhile Back?

Ira Vermont old barn for sale - timber frame barn homes

Ira, Vermont – Antique Timber Frames for Sale!

Well this barn’s still for sale!

The Ira, Vermont farmer continues to hope that someone will save his 1770s gunstock frame.

The original barn is a 32’x40’ hand hewn, modified gunstock timber frame with hardwood timbers and gorgeous wide plank siding and roof boards. In the 19th century, two timber frame additions were added to this historic property, making it much larger today – 32’x87′. The slate roof is still in great condition and adds incredible value to the frame.

My Love For Historic Barns

I’ve driven by this old frame for years and it is one of my favorite historic properties in Vermont. Apart from the beauty of the old post and beam barn itself, the barn is full of original horse powered equipment tools that will be included with the sale of the barn.

The Magic of Barn Homes

If this barn became a custom built timber frame home, the small touches of horse-drawn equipment could help bring a rustic feel into the newly restored living space. Here are a few of the treasures we found inside:

Treasures inside Vermont Timber frames

Horse Tack in Vermont Barn

Horse Tack

We’re eager to help save this historic gem. The farmer is offering the barn and all the contents at a very fair price for anyone interested.

Did we mention there’s a corn crib?

There is a smaller timber frame – a classic Vermont corn crib – right out back on the same property in Ira, Vermont. This addition could be an entryway, guest house or office in your barn style home. Someone has expressed interest in it, but it may still be available.

Timber Frame Old Barn Corn Crib

Timber Frame Corn Crib

Help us save these barns! Please pass the word along.

If you would like to visit these barns – or learn more about historic post and beam homes – please contact me. I began timber framing because I respect this time honored craft.  I’m trying to help the owner find someone to love this old timber frame and all of the history it holds.

www.greenmountaintimberframes.com