Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture Archives Contact Us Search Forum Upcoming Events

HVVA NEWSLETTER, September 2000
(Click on graphics/photos for larger view)


From the JOURNAL

Monday August 7, 2000 with Fred Steuding visited the Mahoney farm in Wawarsing, inspected the barn and talked with the owner Marie Mahoney. The area was formerly known as Sakanesing and the present Sampsonville Rd. also.

The 5-bay true form Dutch barn Jacob Van Bruyn/Mahoney (Waw-2) measures 51' 8" wide by 60' 6" long. Its has 10' side aisles and a 31' 8"'nave. This last is probably a record width for Dutch barns in Ulster County. It is one of three extant barns in the county with lap dovetail joints on the anchorbeam braces making It among the oldest Dutch barns and will make an interesting comparison with the 4-bay Jansen/Cherney Dutch barn (Sha-2) in the town of Shawangunk. Unlike the Jansen barn the columns in the Mahoney barn were never raised. Its 11' 4" side walls and steep roof give it an original proportion. It also has a very deep and probably original pentice roof, Its outriggers are formed by extending mow-poles. The marriage marks are all roman numerals, no cup marks that are often associated with major-minor rafter systems.

Thursday, August, 17 with Sussane Sahler, to see a barn on a 141 acre property for sale for 300-thousanp-dollars. Call Sussane (914)626-2993). This _/Raskin/Reynolds farm (Waw-7) is in Ulster Heights, Wawarsing, Ulster County. The property is mostly on the side of a steep rock strewn hillside with black bear and large trees. There are two modern houses set 500 feet back of a large open field that fronts the road. The original farm house is gone but there is an interesting banked barn of about 1900-1920 with a round-sawn stick frame. In was built originally as 22 x 32 bank barn and a 10-foot addition was made soon after.

Many original features survive that are based on traditional models. One thing of note, there is no partition between the horses nor evidence of a hanging partition as in the Snyder barn (Sau-5). The ceiling in the tack room is so low it makes me think they had oxen but I found a horse-shoe on the ramp, a sign of good-luck if you know the proper ritual.

The plan of the barn is a good model for how the small Catskill Mountain subsistence farm, once common in the narrow valleys of this area, arranged the working and storage space. The builder was probably the farmer who with little money or help took advantage of what was available and cheap. The framing is in a variety of dimensions, often wainy and sometimes laminated. The one bent framed with mortise and tenon contains the 22 foot long swing-beam that is part of a king-pin truss made from reused hewn timbers. It seems that the function of the swing beam in this barn is to allow a wagon to be turned around.

Saturday, August 25 with Alvin Sheffer to Ancramdale, Columbia County to the center hall frame house circa 1790-1810 on Simons Road (Anc-3) that Paul Spencer is restoring on 20 acres. He plans to bring a Schoharie Dutch barn frame to the site soon. A number of people were present and Paul took us on a tour of the house. Mike Barbari from Germantown is the carpenter. He showed us some of the exposed wall framing with evidence of original window frames notched in the posts. He found that both the longitudinal sills and the wall plates were continuous, meaning that the two-room center hall house was built originally rather than the result of an expansion.

Paul shared his research into the deeds and ownership of the property that is still inconclusive. Two individuals who know the area well, Mary Howell, Columbia County Historian, and Sally Light, independent researcher, were able to help him with the interpretation of the documents and plan to search further.

Sally Light is the author of House Histories. a Guide to Tracing the Genealogy of Your Home, Golden Hill Press 1989, now in its seventh printing. It is a good book for the novice homeowner, clearly illustrated with features of traditional architecture. It is not a study of regional architecture but a guide to eighteenth and early nineteenth century American vernacular houses. The first section deals with the physical evidence and how to interpret it. The next three sections deal with research into the written and graphic records. The last section deals with all aspects of making house history research a for-profit business.

There is originality in both fireplaces but the undivided cellar is the most unaltered feature of the house. The two hearth cradles are of a traditional Dutch form.

Tom Lanni attended the tour. He has not finalized on where the Fredericks barn of Stone Arabia will go but knows that it must be moved before the winter.

Saturday, August 26 about ten people met at the Bevier/Hasbrouk/Borchering/Colucci farm (Gar-5) on Phillies Bridge Road, Gardiner, Ulster County. The tour was conducted by Tom Colucci, a lifelong resident of Gardiner and a restoration carpenter. We first inspected the frame house. The original one room has many original features such as a Federal mantelpiece on the fireplace and a side oven with a clean-out ramp and a cast iron door signed "Spier & Wilson." The fire back is the reused bottom plate of a Franklin Stove. This original part of the house, without a cellar, seems to date 1790-1810. The two-part front door is a flush panel with diagonal boards nailed on the inside. The hinges are of an early type and match those on two false-panel doors in the cellar of the two-room addition. These doors seem to be reused from an earlier house as are at least five re-used beaded beams in the cellar, probably from this same mid-18th century house.

A 9 x 13-inch hood beam (1.) has 7 x 6-inch trimmer mortises indicating a jambless fireplace that was 8-feet wide. Evidence of fire damage on Its inner surface and water damage in the mortises of the trimmers tell us things about this early house. There are (2.) a 7 1/2 x7 1/2 inch and (3.) a. 8 x 10 1/2-inch reused internal beams. A (4.) 7 x 9 3/4-inch beam with lap dovetail mortises is probably the external beam for this early 4-bay one-room wood frame Dutch house. The placement of the braces on the external beam suggest the early house was probably 22' to 24' wide. The cellar of the mid 19th century two-room addition measures 16' 11" wide by 37' long. There is a re-used cellar hearth beam (5.) with trimmer mortises 8' 2" apart.

There are a number of outbuildings and a 3-bay English barn of 1840-1850 that we inspected next. The barn has chestnut beams, pinned rafters and canted queen posts. There is a carved signature "P.H.B." perhaps Philip Hasbrouck. Raising holes are set 6-inches bellow the top of the posts.

We next went to the DuBoise farm (Gar-6) on Jenkinstown Road and inspected two 4-bay side entrance barns with a number of reused Dutch barn parts and an unusual form of novelty siding. One barn is a 36' x 66' swing trussed-beam barn. some of the timbers are round sawn. The Raising holes are set 6" bellow the top of the posts.

Two 36-foot long sawn timbers have sawmill stamps "Reken & Haff, Ft. Jackson, NY." This is a town in Saint Lawrence County in the northern Adirondack Mountains, on the upper Raquet River. They indicate that long timbers were becoming hard to find in this area in the late 19th-century. It is interesting to speculate on how they were transported to Gardiner. It is possible they were brought by water, down the Raquet River to the Saint Lawrence and eventually to the Hudson River that lies 18.5 miles to the east of the DuBoise farm. Were the beams left-overs from a larger shipment that went into the construction of a bridge or mill.

This site is close to the former Jenkins Mill and nearby on the same stream to the Terwilliger house at Locust Lawn. A granary door in the barn has some interesting writing in black with the xed-out caricature of a smoker. It reads, "All persons are found smoking in this barn - jail, J.J. Jenkins. 1888." Niel Larson is doing registration papers for the site that includes a stone house.

We next visited the Terwilliger/Snider stone house (Gar-7). This two-room center-chimney Dutch stone house measures 24'3" by 33'3". It has. been carefully restored by the present owner, Elizabeth Snider, who acquired it in 1978. There had been a barn but it burned 23 years ago.

From evidence of molding profiles and the plan of the house, John Stevens and Roger Scheff thought it was built before 1760, yet it is clear from the distribution of ceiling beams that it never had a jambless fireplace, as one might expect. It is possible the house had a 5-plate stove in the parlor. Some of the door hinges have the stamp of "Palkowitz", a contemporary New Paltz blacksmith, who copied surviving hinges in the cellar for the restoration.

Maggie MacDowell lead us to the last scheduled stop at the 1869 3-bay Dutch U-barn with partial basement _/_ (Gar-7).

This 44" x 36" barn with its long side-entrance addition, all on one acre of land, is for sale for $69,900, contact Maggie (914) 255-0771. Typical of later Dutch barns it has an individualized and elaborated frame based on the true-form. The timbers are chestnut. The 2" extended tenons are not wedged. The 15-pairs of 4 1/2 x 5 tapered rafters are butted. The wagon door strap hinges are long with square ends. There are double braces on anchorbeams.

Driving back on Hurds Road to the Colucci farm the group spotted a white barn in the Manard apple orchard that looked Dutch. Tom got permission from the owner and we added a 4-bay Dutch U-barn _/Menard (NP11) to the list of 7 Dutch barns previously registered in New Paltz.

Like (Gar-7) it is a well built square rule frame with non extending tenons. The 22-pairs of pole rafters are pinned. There are double braces on anchorbeams. It originally had wagon doors on one gable-end and one side entrance on the third bay. This was a common arrangement in 19th century Dutch barns of southern Ulster County, and Harold Zock finds a similar plan in Schoharie County.


From the Editor

Our application for a charter from the NYS Department of Education has been re-submitted for the November meeting of the Board of Regents.

HVVA now has 122 paying members, $160 in the working account and $384 in the Oliver barn fund. The next meeting will be on Saturday, September 16 at 10 AM at our temporary headquarters in the Olvier Barn, Route 209, Marbletown. Plans are to talk about the Barn Coalition, the NYS barn repair grants and future projects of HVVA.

On Saturday, August 26 about ten people met at the Bevier/Hasbrouck/Colucci farm (Gar-5) on Phillies Bridge Road, Gardiner, Ulster County. The tour was conducted by Tom Colucci, a lifelong resident of Gardiner and a restoration carpenter. We visited two 18th century stone houses and five traditional timber frame barns.

On the next Tuesday I went to a trustees meeting of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society in the Fredericks House, Albany County. I had received an application-form for six categories of "Barn Preservation Awards" to be given by the New York State Barn Coalition at their Conference, October 14, in Amherst, NY. This type of promotion does not sit well with me as it provides entertainment but does not address the preservation issues of identifying and setting priorities for traditional barns. The Coalition lists 14 member groups but from what I can deduce it is actually the work of the Preservation League of New York.

No one at the DBPS meeting had gotten the awards application form or knew what was going on with the Coalition. Who is the Coalition? As a listed member of the Coalition I urged the DBPS to withdraw or bring some direction to the group. Amelia Anderson said she had read that the group was to receive two-million-dollars. This was confirmed the next day by Bob Hedges who had manned a Coalition table with his wife Marj and Randy Nash, founding member of Traditional Timberframers Research and Advisory Group (TTRAG), at a meeting in Syracuse. Bob copied a number of papers for me that were available in Syracuse. The most informative were two newspaper articles from early May.

According to the articles the amount is three-million-dollars and it is part of 2000-20001 NYS budget. It got there because of NYS Senator Nancy Larraine Hoffman (Republican-Independant 48th District) from Onandoga County. Nancy is the Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and has worked on a number of reforms to ease the financial burden on New York State farmers. The present barn repair fund was her inspiration.

"With help from Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader, Joseph L. Bruno, the veteran Central New York lawmaker (Nancy Hoffman) successfully negotiated bold new initiatives to reduce energy costs on farms, repair barns, remove taxes on products purchased by farmers, and launch an agri-tourism/education program in the middle of the state," (Country Folks, section A, page 5, May 8, 2000)

Senator Hoffman has said, "Details of the program (barn repair) are still being worked out, including how to catalog barns, figure repair costs and devise terms of eligibility." (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 10,2000). Bob Hedges who attended the Syracuse meeting feels it will be done and in the news, by the election in November. It has strong rural appeal, but if the Coalition has something to do with organizing the program it does not seem to be consulting its members.

A NYS barn restoration program in effect since 1996 offers a 25% state income tax credit for taxpayers who rehabilitate barns for agricultural use. It is a self regulating program. "The program cost the state $1,665 million, according to the Governor's office, although officials couldn't say how many landowners participated. There were no takers in Monroe County. New York's new $3 million program will be handled partly by a legislative "member item" otherwise known as pork. The rest will come from the Environmental Protection Fund, dedicated to environmental projects." (Democrat Chronicle).

The Third New York State Conference on Preserving Historical Barns, sponsored by the New York State Barn Coalition is being held October 14 & 15, 2000, in the Amherst Museum, in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. The agenda includes coffee, a welcome from The Coalition and others, an historic overview by Randy Nash, a break, a session on financial tools, a box lunch, a lecture on non traditional barns, a break, a panel discussion, and you guessed it, 4:30 PM, The First Annual New York State Barn Preservation Awards.

The session titled Financial Tools Update is given by Cynthia Blakemore, NYS Parks Dept., and Tania Werbizky, Preservation League of New York State. Perhaps information on the distribution of the $3 million will be given out then. It is only $30 for early registration and $40 for those who hesitate. Add $30 for the Sunday barn tour, add a twelve hour round trip by car and a lonely hotel room, I vote to stay home. Actually there is hope in the conference's recognition of traditional and non-traditional barns as separate categories. Let us hope for the best and try and get some for local projects many of us in HVVA feel are important.

Ned Pratt is finalizing the DBPS Dutch barn display for the Albany airport. From the photographs it looked impressive. Tom Lanni has loaned a Columbia County anchorbeam for its H-bent and Eve Rau has constructed a cut-away Dutch barn model.

HVVA trustees John Stevens, Roger Scheff and I have our tickets and passports ready for the trip to the Netherlands at the end of the month. I hear that we will be joined by some Timber Frame Guild carpenters. Karen Gross, from Breitenheim, Germany, will be joining us and after the four-day conference she will take us to some sites nearby in Germany. The conference will be a bus tour of four rural locations on the Zuider Zee with talks on traditional architecture at night. It has been organized by Dr. Ellen van Olst for the Historic Farm Building Group (HFBG) of England.

Our Mohawk Valley friends have shared some interesting material. Especially pertinent to our Old World 2000 voyage of discovery coming up, is an illustrated article from Will Watkins of Herkimer Home Sate Historic Site, titled Dutch Farming by an American farmer on his European vacation in 1875. The author, G.E.Waring, in his series, A Farmer's Vacation III, written for Scribner's Monthly, took an interest in the productivity and economics of Dutch agriculture but also the tools and barn architecture at a time when agriculture had not yet been fully mechanized. Waring took an inter st in the ancient history of the place.

"In the provinces of Friesland and Groningen, and all along the North Sea, there are seen, at frequent intervals, little mounds, from 12 to 20 feet in height, on which the ancient villages were built. These mounds are called "terpen" and their erection has unquestionably been the work of man. When they are dug down, their upper parts are found to consist of layers of manure and rubbish, and they contain utensils which reach back to the bronze age, and perhaps even to the stone age. Carthaginian antiquities found within them indicate that at some remote time the hardy natives of that nation must have landed on that distant shore.

These terpen were undoubtedly places of refuge for the people and their flock during times of flood... Recently their earth has been used with the best effect as a fertilizer. The material has now come in great request, and sells for forty cents a cubic yard, about thirty-five cubic yards being a dressing for one acre. The use of the terpen material has caused almost a revolution in agriculture."

I hope that some terpen were not sold and that we may see one on our visit. G.E.Waring was disapproving of the Dutch wagons that had no brakes and critical of the Dutch use of the sith and mathook to harvest grain.

"The grain harvest was in full operation during our visit, and I thought it is a pity that there could not be a general introduction of our "grain cradle. " I described it to a farmer and urged it upon his attention as a great improvement; he was of a contrary opinion, an insisted that the hook and the sickle (sith) must be better. There is no use in arguing such a question with a prejudiced mind, but these tools appeared to me to be particularly awkward and inconvenient."

Bud Miner of Herkimer County is doing a survey of Dutch barns in the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys and welcomes information on existing or moved examples. It is still a question if any barns in these valleys survived "The Destructives", the British series of raids between 1778 and 1781. Bud has found some interesting dispositions filed for property losses during the war. They are from The Mohawk Valley, by Mary Riggs Diefendorf, G.P. Putnam's Sons 1910, Pages 236-238.

Abraham Quackenbos - "...one sufftciant Dwelling House, made of Brick and an Antri to the Same with a Good Sufficient Cellar underneath with a shingle roof the House is 24 feet Long and 22 feet Width and another House of 18 feet Long and 15 feet Wide and his Movable effects and other necessaries of Life to tedius to mention also 5 sheep burned in his brothers barn, one barn of 45 long and 40 wide All Boarded all round having straw roof with all other utensils belong to a Barn... "

John B. Wemple complains of the destruction of his dwelling, barn and barracks.

Johannes E. Van Epps had burned, "Two other Dwelling Houses, quantities of grain, One Barrack... "

Bud has noticed that the dimensions of the Quackenbos thatched barn matches, "almost to a foot," Those of the four or five Dutch barns surviving in Herkimer County. However I think the length and width are reversed in the description. In a recent survey of nine Dutch barns in Shawangunk, Ulster County it was found that all 3 and 4 bent barns were wider than long, sometimes by less than a foot. Only one 5-bay barn was longer than wide.

Bud will be giving a talk on Herkimer Dutch barns this winter.

Peter Sinclair, editor

Copyright 2004. Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.