NEWSLETTER, September 2001, Part Two
From the Editor:
On two Saturdays, Bob Hedges and his wife Marjory, and Todd Scheff and I manned the Barn Coalition table at the State Agricultural Fair in Syracuse that is open for two weeks before Labor Day. It is the largest in the State and attracts endless streams of cars and people from the area who come to enjoy the exotic foods and visit the endless exhibits and demonstrations. The Barn Coalition table and display was in the Witter Agricultural and Carriage Museum that contains a nice collection of early farm tools, wagons and carriages. The classic architecture of the museum's exterior also houses a restored one-room log cabin, a late 19th century example. Its simply furnished interior, with a ladder to the loft fIxed to the wall beside the fueplace, conveys a strong reality of the regions past frontier lifestyle.
There were a number of traditional craft demonstrations and interpreters at the Witter Museum. The Barn Coalition table was covered with brochures of organizations, NY State Tax Credit information and notice of coming events. The wall behind the table displayed photographs of the 113 barns that had received NY State bath restoration grants. We talked with many people, all from the western part of the State, who had received the grants or knew of some one who had and to others who didn't get a grant.
We reminded them that the 113 grants had been selected from 7,000 applications We provided them with information on the next round, and how to get the new application form from the State. (*)
Randy Nash, of Cazanovia, who is advising the work has visited about 75 of the barns. It is not known if there will be future preservation grants after this second program, but he feels that from the overwhelming experience of reading through 7,000 applications, they have adopted a better system for the initial selection that will be based more on good photo documentation. It is hoped the program will continue but there is no indication of such. So far no recipient has received money and no work has begun but it is imminent they say.
Bob Hedges, who is restoring a barn in Gallitan, southern Columbia County (**), called me about a barn nearby on the Dutchess County, border that had been bulldozed into a pile and was going to be destroyed and buried in a large hole in the ground as were two cement silos on the other side of a large 1880 cow barn being renovated for horses. Bob had, seen the barn for years and never thought anything of it but when he examined the jumble of broken and rotted timbers, the style of joining, the marriage marks and the evidence of infill convinced him it contained the remains of an unusual and early building that may have included living quarter. Gallitan is a place with a low density of population, hilly forested land with large but scattered fields and dairy farms. Many of these farms, like those in in the adjoining towns of Tagkanic and Ancram are gradually veing converted to horse farms with white plank fencing and large well kept houses. They are often bought by people who are not sensitive to the region's heritage. Soon after Bob's discovery we went together to document the remains of the _/ Itkin (Col-Gal-3) timber frame on Route 7, and returned soon after for an additional look. Bob returned a few days later and everything was gone including the barn's stone foundation.
Steve Swift, of Middleburgh, up on the Mohawk River, was hired by the owner to remove the bam. He has salvaged some of its parts. The destroyed frame was in an altered and fragmented form before its demolition. There were no sills or original rafters left. The foundation measured approximately 42 foot wide by 54 foot long. Trying to interpret the original side entrance building from the bulldozed pile of mixed-together timbers, some already moved and removed, was difficult.
The early frame is significant in a number of ways. Grooves in the lower 7-foot studs along one entire 42-foot wide end wall indicate an infill of riven wood slats covered with mud and straw, a type of infill used for heat insulation and typical for frame houses in the Hudson Valley until the introduction of the cast iron stove in about 1840.
Gouge marriage marks are known on a number of early frames in Ulster County and John Stevens found them on the frame of the Shenk house moved to Bethpage Village on Long Island, an open air museum, but the Itken timber frame is one of the few known uses of gouge marks in Dutchess or Columbia Counties The property was part of the Livingston Manor and is close to the Silvernail Farm (Col-Gal-2) with its circa 1760 3-bay side entrance barn that measures 41.5 foot wide by 49 foot long with 16-foot side walls. Bob and I felt there might be some similarities between the two and we took a brief look at its frame. It is an unusual 3 bay side entrance plan with early framing features. Marriage marks on the two internal bents are lines with flags.
In a telephone conversation with Steve Swift I learned that he had also noted the unusual gouge marks in the Itkin barn and noted that there was infill evidence also on the other end wall as well but he could not tell about the sidewalls. He said that the circa 1770 Fredrick Dutch barn in Stone Arabia, that he recently disassembled and moved, had lines and flags like those in the Silvernail barn. He also told me of recent discoveries at the Huguenot Historical Society in New Paltz where he had done some work on the restoration of the 1694-1717 Abraham Hasbrouck house. A transom frame for leaded glass and another window frame for a double casement sash were discovered bellow later work. Like the cross casement window frame in the 1696 Bevier-Elting house and the casement sash with leaded glass rediscovered a few years ago in the loft of the Deyo house, these New Paltz artifacts are rare survivals.
Some time ago, Jack Sobon pointed out the association of the gouge chisel mark with the use of early spoon and nose augers used to drill holes in the timbers. The carpenters started the auger in a gouged pocket. The introduction of the lead screw auger in about 1770 made the gouge chisel unnecessary for this and so not part of the tools the timber frame carpenter might carry. Roman numerals cut with a straight chisel are commonly found on later scribe-rule frames Bob Hedges has found columns re-used as sills in the Mintzer barn (Col-Gal-1) with gouge marriage marks indicating some early architectural survivals in the area. We plan to go up to Middelbergh and document more of the timbers of the Itken frame stored there.
During the past few weeks in the small rural town of Gallitan here in the Hudson Valley one old timber frame has been demolished and the parts taken north. We have heard that another barn was disassembled and moved to a place and by a person unknown and that one disassembled timber frame from far away was brought in by the New Jersey Barn Company to be reconstructed as a house.
Our Ulster County Republican Representative never got back to us about our interest in purchasing the Harry Siemsen house in Stony Hollow from Ulster County to use as a museum site(***). In the meantime we have been contacted by the local newspaper, the Kingston Freeman, and so we will go to the people.
Ted Hillsher of Green County, owner of a wide swingbeam barn, has offered his legal services pro bono to HVVA. We now have circa 170 members and $210.49 in the bank. Without debts or obligations but some cash in hand and a few friends who share our interest we proceed with the mission.
Peter Sinclair, Editor Spillway Farm, West Hurley
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