HVVA NEWSLETTER, December 2004
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HVVA Newsletters

Saturday, November 20, Part Two

The Lown 2-bay Dutch barn is one of the smallest examples know. It has been carefully reconstructed into a pleasant light filled house that allows the original framing and rafters to be exposed on the interior.

The barn has a lowered side aisle. A natural modification of the true-form Dutch barn when farms were established on the hillier lands. When last used on this farm the cellar room was for pigs.

The Frost 3-bay Dutch barn is a true-form example. Built on level ground with no cellar, It was a drive through barn with wagon doors at either end of the center aisle threshing floor (one set of wagon doors is not shown in the measured drawing). The side aisles are identified as "horse and cow" by the one foot difference in height of the aisle-struts.

This barn was built as a true-form Dutch type with bents close in dimension to the Hinkey barn. Judging by the condition of its sills, it was soon lifted a story and moved to a bank to give it a full cellar. An earthen ramp was added to give access to the north end. It seems to be an early conversion, representing a change from grain farming to dairy.

The long extended anchorbeam tenons with two wedges and two pins is the most classic joinery of all the four barns visited in Wurtenburg. The others extend slightly, but only the tenons of the Hinkey barn are held with a wedge and only one.

John Kurowski has been restoring this barn which has been unused for many years and has suffered some water damage. He has nailed temporary bracing while repairing the side wall.

This is a unique form of the Dutch barn. Every other bent in the series of 11 closely spaced bents has a short verdeiping (column height above anchorbeam) and does not support the purlin. These short bents allow for the uphill center side-ramp. They also add to the load capacity of the loft. It indicates the barn was intended for hay, a much heavier crop than grain. Many of the short columns are mill sawn rather than hewn indicating an early 19th century date for its construction. It is part of a complex of farm buildings, unused and in need of repair.

Sunday, December 5

We went to Athens, Greene County, NY to see the restoration of the Van Loon House (Reynolds plate 46.). This pioneer homestead, settled by a Catholic family from Albany, is located 150-feet from the bank of the Hudson River. It is a complex house with many additions and changes. The first section of the stone house was dated 1724 on a date stone in the wall facing the road that has since delaminated and been covered by the build up of fill caused by the raising of the road over time.

The present owners, Randy Evans and Carrie Feder, have discovered a second date stone on the side facing the River During the past five years of maintenance, stabilization and exploration the house has yielded a number of artifacts including many worn out shoes hidden in the walls. It is common to find shoes in the walls of old houses. It is said this was for good luck.

One of the most exciting events of the month was receiving information from The Netherlands on the roof structure of the thatched hay barrack there. Wim Lampham, who maintains the <hooiberg> (hay barrack) web site (*) sent me a photograph looking up under the roof of a thatched barrack and described how it was constructed and the names of its parts.

We frequently find re used barrack - plates in Hudson Valley barns. These are most often fragments but indicate a very consistent and wide spread pattern of rafter holes on each plate. There is a centered rectangular mortise for the major rafter and three angled holes on either side for the minor rafters. An illustration in an 18th century Verplank manuscript shows the minor rafters joined to the major rafter to form a triangular frame and there have been a number of museum restoration barracks constructed in the Northeast using this Verplank system.

There are many photographs and paintings of Hudson Valley thatched hay barracks yet none show much about their rafter system. The Dutch system makes a lot of sense. In the Dutch barrack system the zwaarden are nailed to the major rafters and the minor rafters simply rest on the zwaarden and so use many less attachments. In the Verplank system the minor rafters are all fastened to their major rafter, making 24 attachments on a four pole barrack.

This all makes one wonder, was Verplank wrong in his interpretation of the Hudson Valley barrack rafter system, or was there perhaps a new rafter system developed here? Since no barrack rafters or zwaarden have been identified here it is difficult to know. The systems are certainly related and a Hudson Valley barrack plate could accommodate a zwaarden system.

Wim says that he has seen the zwaarden set parallel to the plates (lanen) but the 45-degree placement, as in the drawing, is more common. The rafters were set in holes in the plate. Later they rest on the plate and are nailed or tied to it.

One of the interesting things about the zwaarden system is how it is similar in ways to the major/minor rafter systems found on a few 18th century Dutch aisle barns in Ulster County. In this system the minor rafters rest on a 4-sided ridge pole that the major rafters are nailed to.

(*) see the HVVA Newsletter for October 2004. See also http://www.hooiberg.info/special/werff/restauratie_dewerff.htm for the barrack restoration at Werff, The Netherlands.

Peter Sinclair, Editor
West Hurley, NY

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