HVVA NEWSLETTER, February 2006
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HVVA Newsletters

Saturday, January 21, About 18 HVVA members met in Marbletown and later visited two sites. The -/Lee-Mondica house of Susan Lee and Kristi Mondica on Lower Whitfield Road in Accord, Ulster County. This site presently operates as a small horse breeding farm. Some pasture land has been cleared recently. The maple trees will be used for fire wood and the tall straight white-pine used for a future barn frame.  We registered it:

Two-room story-and-a-half frame house _/Lee-Mondica (Ny/Uls/Roc/16) Lower Whitfield Rd., Rochester, Ulster County, NY N 41'48.749' W 074'14,160 - elevation 475 feet

This two room frame house is thought to date from the 18th century. There is a stone hearth support for a corner fireplace in the cellar but no evidence in the present frame for such a thing. Perhaps the foundation was for an earlier house. The present H-bent frame seems to be early 19th century. Corner fireplaces are rare in the Hudson Valley.





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We next went to the village of Kripplebush, Town of Marbletown, Ulster County to see a two-room Dutch stone house with an addition, It is known as the Thomas Chambers House. We registered it:

Two-room stone house with addition, corn crib and English barn
The Thomas Chambers House (NY/Uls/Mar/30) Kripplebush, Marbletown, Ulster County, NY N 41 '50,393' W 074'11,470 - elevation 375 feet

This was not the English Carpenter Thomas Chambers, known as "Clapboard", who founded the Esopus Colony here in the mid 17th century. Clapboard left no heirs with his surname. It is a later family with the same name, still the use of Thomas may have a connection with Clapboard. The present owners, Jon Boka and his family have done extensive historic research on the ownership of the site and during restoration, while removing the plaster ceilings to expose the original beaded beams, they discovered a large cache of early historic documents, an important collection of inventories, maps and deeds that Jon is in the process of preserving and copying. He believes the house is early 19th century, like 1800.

The Thomas Chambers House Kripplebush, Marbletown Ulster County, NY

The 19th century 3-bay English barn, with vertical board-and-batten siding, is situated behind the Chambers house. It has a common plan but an unusual feature in the framing where the tie-beams are not dropped a foot bellow the plates as is usual in the American square-rule frame, but joined between the post and plate. The posts do have raising holes but perhaps this tie beam is an English feature. I am unfamiliar with it in Ulster County. A closer look at this joint would be good.

       There is lamp-black harvest writing in the barn, indicating the baling of hay in the 19th century. One inscription reads, "Erected May 5. 1877". This could date the barn but normally barns are dated with chiseled or inscribed numbers rather than painted. The erection date could refer to a stationary hay-press erected inside the barn but now gone. These were tall structures sometimes horse-powered. There may be evidence of it in the barn's timbers.
The Thomas Chambers Barn
Kripplebush, Marbletown, Ulster County, NY

Friday, December 2, I met with Craig and Patsy Vogel to visit the J. Steiner farm and were iven a tour by Joe Howard, the farm manager. We registered it:

J. Steiner farm with 5-bay Dutch U barn in a working barn complex Red Hook, Dutchess County, NY Linden Avenue (NY/Dut/RH/017) coordinates N42'01.272' W073'52.590' elevation 239-feet

       The Steiner 5-bay Dutch barn is a unique example of the New World Dutch barn in transition. Its side entrance is not an anglicizing of the form. It is a development that was adopting to changes in agriculture and the environment. The Steiner barn has a late scribe-rule frame that makes use of a variety of wood types, used parts and long thin columns with lots of wane. Wane is the exposed outer layer of the tree, the sap-wood. It is a good place for taking core samples used in dendro-dating trees and thus dating timbers and timber frames. The presence of wane also indicates that availability of old growth trees was diminishing.

Steiner 5-bay Dutch U barn, Red Hook, Dutchess County, NY
(left) Bent 3. facing toward the front of the barn. One tenon wedge is missing. The column has a lot of wane, (right) Bent 4. facing back. The two long upper braces are made from two planks each, nailed to the sides of the beam and column. They replace the upper tie that was removed when a hay track was installed.
Originally, there were no upper tie-beams on bents 2., 3. and 5.

      The timbers in early Dutch barns and houses in Dutchess County, are normally of white-oak, have little wane and their dimensions are rectangular. Later barns use a variety of wood types. The timbers become less rectangular and squarer, also indicating the builders inability to find large trees. The Steiner farm is on a very low flat piece of land that would have lent itself to early settlement and tree removal.
       Of special note in this barn are the extended beam tenons that are wedged and pinned. This is the early, Old World form of Dutch barn joinery, later the tenons extend but are not wedged and finally they are not extended, but flush with the back of the column.
       One weakness of the traditional timber frame is that the joints of braces and beams, held together with wooden pins, trunnels, do not work well in tension, extended wedged tenons help. From our brief examination and a few measurements, cold and windy, I concluded the barn was built in circa 1800, originally had wooden hinged wagon doors on the gable end and the builder had reverted to the use of wedged tenons to add tensile strength to this tall and lightly framed Dutch barn that has survived relatively intact after an active life of 200-years, still useful for equipment and hay storage.

Steiner 5-bay Dutch U barn Red Hook, Dutchess County, NY

      The barn had a center-bay transverse drive-through. I could find no evidence of the hinge type for these doors. They have been replaced by sliding track-hung doors. The two left bays, with anchorbeams set 12-feet from the floor and animal stalls in the side aisles, have the classic Dutch barn form used for storing and processing grain. The two wider right bays have their anchorbeams set 8-feet from the floor. Bent 4. has a lighter beam joined 4-feet above the lowered anchorbeam. It allows for mow poles to span the center bay, and also holds back the mound of loose hay that was supported on mow poles resting on the lowered anchorbeams.
       The use of lowered anchorbeams in the back bay/bays of later Dutch barns is common and widespread. The space bellow the lowered beams could be used for animals. I have been calling this lowered anchorbeam form a "Dutch U-barn". They are similar to what some call a "swing-beam barn".

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