NEWSLETTER, December 2004
FROM THE JOURNAL
Saturday, November 20
About 15 people met in the Ulster County Historical Society on Route 209 at the Bevier House Museum in Marbletown, for the 17th Annual Dutch Barn Preservation Society Meeting. Plans were begun for the Third Annual HVVA/DBPS Barn Conference. Carla Cielo has since begun work on holding it in New Jersey. Ideas for work on a coordinated barn survey were discussed - and for a traveling exhibition about Dutch barns.
In the morning the group visited the site known as the Andreas DeWitt farm on Hurley Mountain Road in Marbletown. The farm is said to date to 1680. The small one room deep stone house is a typical example of an 18th century Ulster County, extended house. It could be a tenant house, it has a low knee wall. It contains original fabric.
There is a late 19th century 36 X 199 foot hay barn with an impressive open interior. There is also a scribe-rule Dutch barn with an oak frame and sawn braces that may have been built in the late 18th century. It is a six bay example with 12 foot side walls. It is one of the largest surviving Dutch barns and is in excellent condition. It makes an interesting comparison with the 3-bay Nieuwkerk barn about five miles away in Hurley that is dated 1766, which has 9-foot side-walls and a steeper roof pitch.
The DeWitt barn and the Nieuwkerk barn share many common features. The tops of their anchorbeams are 12-feet from the threshing floor, the H-bents are 30-feet wide and the side aisles are all10-feet wide. Their differences of side wall heights and roof pitches illustrate the development of Dutch aisled grain barns in the 18th century here, before wheat lost out as the major cash crop.
The south wagon doors, 10-foot wide, had wooden hinges. The north doors, 12-feet wide, have strap hinges and open into the barn as wooden hinged doors do. John Stevens noted that the carpenter had begun to cut the slots in the door-posts for wooden hinges but had stopped before he completed the job.
Nine people (*) gathered in Dutchess County at the Stewart's Shop next to The Red Hook Historic Diner that had suffered a fire last week and was closed. We came to car pool and visit four Dutch barns in Rhinebeck that Todd had organized.
(*Jim Decker, John Kurowski, Maggie MacDowell, Todd Scheff, Alvin Sheffer, Peter Sinclair, Denis Tierney, Tom Turner and Edna Turner.)
The Wurtenburg area we would visit was settled primarily by a small group of Palatine Germans who came in the 1740's, 25 years after the large immigration of almost 2,000 Palatine German refugees, who came in 1710, had begun to establish farms south of here on Beekman's Patent.
The four barns we visited are difficult to date. They all have rough-hewn white oak frames, probably chestnut as well, and the timbers have roman-numeral marriage marks. One set of these marks had flags. There was found one use of a race knife to mark a brace. This all seems to date the barns before 1815 and there is evidence in one barn of the use of a spoon bit auger that is certainly 18th century. They seem to be second generation barns but we found almost no re-used parts.
Each of the four barns is unique in size, indicating perhaps the size and wealth of the farm. Each is individual in the details of its framing, indicating they were built by different carpenters.
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