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HVVA NEWSLETTER, November/December 2001
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From the JOURNAL
Saturday, October 20
twenty or more people attended the DBPS annual meeting at the Wemp barn In Fuer Bush, Town of New Scotland, Albany County. Randy Nash talked about the NY State barn, grant program, its problems in funding and what has been learned by administering this first go around, that involved 7,000 applications to award 110 grants, and what can be applied to future barn repair programs. Other States are looking to this program as a model for what they might eventually begin.

Randy has enjoyed the work because it has given him a chance to examine barns throughout the state. He has observed that the Dutch Barn only occurs in areas settled before the Revolution.

The first western barns were primarily 3-bay English threshing barns. Many of these 3-bay frames were later combined and reconfigured to construct larger hay storage barns. While the west was quick to adopt new ideas for barns, he said, the east was more conservative.

After the meeting a few people followed Paul Spencer to a farm site in the Town of Knox, Albany County. The center-hall stone house has an "1806" date-stone. The scribe rule 4-bay Dutch barn is located about 200-feet away across a small stream. I had seen it years ago on DBPS tours that Bob Anderson had arranged. It was in use then and full of hay and so, always hard to examine. Bob said that he thought it is now owned by a New York City lawyer who was working on it a couple of years ago. He had cleaned out the barn and built a two story rental house and garage next to the stone house but now it all seems half finished and abandoned. Some of the metal sheets have blown off the barn roof and the simple vinyl sided rental is empty. The stone house has seen a few changes with a new set of factory windows and doors probably bought at a discount sale.

The Town of Knox barn is now clear of all hay and junk and easy to examine. Its frame has many of the proportions and characteristics of the Wemp barn that was moved to Albany County about 40 miles from its original site in Montgomery County on the Mohawk River. It is a massive pine frame with highly finished surfaces on the principal timbers. The anchorbeam braces are almost as wide as the columns, as in the Wemp barn. While there are similar northern features in both barns this Knox barn has a number of unusual things that perhaps indicate a regional style of Dutch framing.

One of the most distinct features is the decorative treatment of the extended anchorbeam tenon. (*) Another is the unusual aisle struts that join the columns to the wall plates rather than side-wall posts. The doors of the original true-form Dutch barn had wooden hinges with in-set pintals as is found often in Columbia County. The original pentice design is uncertain but there are no mortises through the external anchorbeams as there are in the Wemp barn and unlike that barn, the Knox barn has dropped-tie beams on its end bent frames. Its 32-foot nave is the maximum width found in Dutch barns.

An interesting one-bay square-rule addition was made on one end of the original true-form Knox barn. It created a plan like that found last month on a Dutch barn in Bethlehem, Albany County. The Bethlehem barn is set to be destroyed by the owner who is planning to develop the land with houses. It was learned at the DBPS meeting from Kieth Cramer that he plans to buy timbers of the Dutch barn after it is brought down and he will dismantle the frame house before winter to be erected somewhere later. The owner intends to pull the barn down, one corner of which is falling and open to the weather. Both the Knox and Bethlehem barns should be measured and documented as their fate is uncertain.

(*) An article in the Fall 1999 newsletter of the DBPS by Christopher Albright identifies two Dutch scribe-rule barns in the town of Coeymans, Albany County with similar "tombstone appearance" anchorbeam-tenons. These are the Collins and Slingerland barns. From photographs and descriptions he gives, they are similar in many ways to the Knox barn. All have 32-foot center-aisles. Chris speculated that the tenons are the trademark of a builder.


Sunday, November 11 with Bob Hedges to see a barn on Fiddler's Bridge Road, Town of Clinton (Dut-Cli-4) recently bought with 40 acres of land. It is a 4-bay scribe-rule Dutch barn with a partial basement and a side ramp. It seems never to have been a true-form grain barn. The wagon doors at one end measured only 8-feet high. We estimated the barn's construction to circa 1790. The present two-story frame house was constructed in the last half of the 19th century.

The D'Amico barn is unusual in a number of ways. The framing is very specialized with many braces to accommodate the side ramp. The raising holes in the wall posts are transverse like those in the columns indicating an unusual raising procedure. The frame has a complex system of marriage marks. The oak and hardwood timbers are irregular in dimension and have wane (outer surface of log) on edges showing a shortage of local timber at that time. Aside from a few weak areas the barn is in stable condition and has a good metal roof.


From Stony Hollow November 19, 2001
In the restoration of the Madden house, a 2-room, vernacular building of about 1850, it has been necessary to clean the place up after years of neglect and vandalism. Many bags of fragile brown, non-deposit beer bottles, rusted tin and wire, mixed with the soggy strands of fabrics attached to rotten boards were driven to the nearby dump in West Hurley. Among this waste the hand made fish lure, the photo and the forged iron latch were saved.

In recovering the history of the house and its community from written records and the people that knew it first hand, new information has been gained and it is necessary to correct previous errors and dig deeper for truth, doubting the popular accounts, trusting only the artifact, the legal document, and the bullet hole. Some errors must be corrected in my October 8,2001 account.

After consulting with Gertrude Madden's grand daughter, Arlene, a Stony Hollow native who has collected many photographs and documents of the place and can recall the lineage of the neighborhood, pointed out several errors in last month's report. The train station across from the house was painted a mustard color, not a dark green. It smelled of stale tobacco as she recalled, and Robert Madden, who drew the maps of the mill site, was Gertrude's nephew not her grandson. When Arlene read the story of her grandmother's pig, she assured me that, "Gertrude never raised pigs, maybe some chickens but never pigs and 'a murder a week' in Stony Hollow, no way!"

Alene's cousin "Merrit" who grew up in the Madden house, and has many memories of the place, never heard the story of Gertrude's pig either. He shared with me a drawing of the house he did in 1949 at age 15 and donated a chest with no drawers and an interior batten door with hand made clinch-nails he had saved, objects that were part of the house he remembers. Merrit's drawing of 1949 is filled with factual detail, showing the new asphalt shingle roof that lasted 35-years and the ruins of the recently collapsed Bush house next door. In repairing the roof of the Madden house recently it was found that much of the original 1850 metal roof has survived under the shingles. The roofer had cut the raised seams off the tin and left the rest as a base for the shingles. This has given us the model for the raised-seam roof we intend to restore in spring.

Peter Sinclair, Spillway Farm, West Hurley, NY


Worthwhile Books

A Building History of Northern New England, James L. Garvin
University Press of New England, 2001
This book deals in considerable detail with all aspects of building construction in the 18th and 19th centuries, and even into the early 20th century. The reviewer does not know of anything else like it, and highly recommends it to HVVA members.

There is a discussion of plaster lath in which the use of expanded wood lath (accordion lath) is thought by the author to date to about 1800, which has been my own thought. However a recent visit to the Jacob Treitz, Sr. house in Moncton, New Brunswick gives me some reason to reconsider this dating.

Gerard Le Blanc, the director of the Musee Acadien at the University of Moncton is in charge of the restoration of this house and told me that a colleague has dendro-dated its nine timbers to the mid-1760s. (*) The house is two stories in height and constructed with H-bents in the Dutch way. Exceptionally, all the rafters are part of trusses, the bottom cords being tie beams let into the wall plates. Also, the anchorbeams are made with half-dovetail tenons and are secured with pins as well as wedges driven over the top of the tenon. Mr. LeBlanc tells me this is a feature seen fairly often in late 18th and early 19th century Acadian timber-framed buildings.

The exterior of the Tritz house was shingled over wide, mill-sawn boards. The interior was plastered on 'accordion' lath. A considerable quantity of the original lathing survives, put on with forged nails having 5/8- to 3/4-inch diameter heads. If the dendro-dating of the house is reliable, and the accordion lathing original to its construction, this would push the use of this type of lath back about thirty years.

There is much to be learned about early building technology and in no way is present knowledge 'the last word'. One should keep his eyes open for details that seem exceptional and challenge accepted thought. John R. Stevens


The Winne II House, Bethlehem, Albany County, NY

The Winne II house was 'discovered' in the summer of 2001, about a mile-and-a-quarter northwest of the Winne/Creble house. The only clues on the exterior that it was a really old house were the exposed ends of the anchorbeam that was molded in the same fashion as the corresponding member of the Winne/Creble house.

The Winne II house is slightly smaller than the Winne/Creble, the floor-to-ceiling height is less but the room sizes are similar. The finely-finished anchorbeams, with certain exceptions, have curved-soffit braces (corbels). This house had a jambless fireplace in the front room only, its hearth supported on a trimmer arch in the cellar. This was later replaced with a jambed fireplace with rather fine late 18th century woodwork. The original door jambs and trim survive for the doorway between the front and rear rooms. There is also a doorway in a side wall with a transom opening from which the wooden muntins have been removed. The exterior of the transom rail is molded.

The roof had been rebuilt to a lower pitch, re-using the original rafters. From the collar tie mortise in one of these it was possible to reconstruct the original pitch, which was rather less than the Winne/Creble house (47.5 degrees)

Apart from the side-wall door mentioned, the location of other doors and windows is presently not known. The molded front wall anchorbeam is grooved on its underside for the reception of the upper-most weatherboard of the lower part of the wall. The lower face of the Winne/Creble house is of brick.

Before the Winne/Creble house was recognized, only one Dutch-American house was known to have had a gable overhang, a house that once stood at 922 Broadway in Albany, identified as a Slingerland house. Now, two houses with these overhangs have been found, Winne/Creble having them on both ends. Winne II, while being similar in many respects to Winne/Creble, was built at a later date, at a time when wooden muntins had replaced leaded lights. The side-wall door is almost identical to two similar examples that survive in the Teunis Slingerland house of 1762, located only a few miles distance.


From the Editor:

On Saturday, October 27 about ten HVVA members from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania met at the Hageman farm in Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, headquarters of the Meadows Foundation, Inc. This group of local people have helped preserve and restore houses and barns at six sites in the township and maintain an active program of community events of historic and environmental interest. The organization was formed in the mid-1970s in part the result of a plan by the state to build a dam and Reservoir on the Raritan River, a stream that flows into the Hudson River at Staten Island. A six-mile square of land, a rural and active farming community in the township, was condemned and the land bought by the State of New Jersey but the Six Mile Run Reservoir was never built and the State has been unable to maintain the buildings properly. There were originally 20 barns on the land, only three remain.

Mark Alse, Meadows Foundation President, Joanne Kaiser, Vice-President and David Munyak, who coordinated the tour, accompanied us to four sites. We were shown drawings and documentation of each building and provided with some interesting written material. We were well taken care of with coffee on arrival and a home-cooked lunch at the Van Wickle house, a building that is maintained and used for community events by the Meadows Foundation and rented out for weddings and receptions. Most of their buildings have tenants for security and maintenance.

The tour began at the Garretson/Hageman farm that remained under cultivation and owned by the original family until 1972, when the threat of the proposed reservoir and state pressure forced them to leave. The farm remained deserted for five years, deteriorating badly from the weather, neglect and vandalism. After postponement of the reservoir and a growing public concern in 1978 the Meadows Foundation was granted stewardship of the property for Franklin Township.

Adrian and Catherine Hageman came to America from Holland in about 1652. In about 1703 four of Adrian's grandsons came to the Six Mile Run area. A generation later, Benjamine, who's mother was Magdeline Garretson, was brought to the Garretson Homestead, after his mother's death, to be raised by his aunts. He married Jane Van Wickle in 1845 and in 1868 Benjamine built the large two-story Federal-Victorian center hall house and made the original house the back wing. In examining some exposed timbers with brick infill in the one-story 1810 house, Carla Cielo noted the interrupted wall plate and identified it as an English box frame.

The barn complex was built in 1876 by Benjamine's son Garretsen Hageman, an 1868 Rutgers College graduate, an educated and active man who wrote extensive diaries over a 40-year period. The tall barn with full basement and cupola are from an age of large scale successful family farming. The square-rule timber fame is of an unusual design based on four 30 to 40 foot tall white oak columns (internal posts). Most of the timbers are hewn. There was a discussion about where these massive It seems unlikely that such large hardwood trees would have been available locally in 1876.

The second site visited was the Wyckoff/Garretson frame house. In 1701, Cornelius Wyckoff of Brooklyn bought 1,000 acres on the Raritan and divided it up for his three sons. John was the first to settle in the forested wilderness of New Jersey. After his second marriage to Neeltje Schenck, Cornelius began construction of the present house. Originally thought to date to circa] 709, dendra-dating by Columbia University has put the earliest section of the house at 1730.

John Stevens was taken with the timber frame of the Wyckoff/Garretson house, its blend of Dutch anchorbeam construction and the English box frame with flared posts. It is a framing style he is familiar with from Long Island and is writing a report that will illustrate and compare them. It will appear in the next newsletter.

HVVA is working to set up some interesting tours and events in 2002. One project that has been suggested is a Dutch Barn Conference in June or July, 2002, an event that could be sponsored by several groups. An event that would bring together a number of people with interest and knowledge of the subject, to explore ideas and the feasibility of creating an active and available registration and documentation of Dutch barns. Suggestions are welcome.

241 copies of the last newsletter were mailed with 60 blue renewal slips. HVVA now has $272 in the bank.

Peter Sinclair, Editor

For information about The Meadows Foundation, Inc., contact them at, 1289 Easton Avenue, Somerset, NJ 08873; (732) 828-7418; Meadowsfdn@aol.com

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