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HVVA Newsletters

From the JOURNAL
Tuesday April 18, 2000
with Bud Eckert to see the Boice/Weidner farm (OIi-5) in West Shokan, Olive, Ulster Co. Owned by Charles H. Weidner.

Bud remembers a Hay Barrack in nearby Watson Hollow when he was a boy. It was built by Gus Korittke who had come from Germany. He used to tell his father about wooden shoes. Bud wondered how Gus raised the barrack roof and thought maybe a car jack.

The first to own the Weidner farm was John Boice (1760-1839) who had the present house built, it is said, for his son Abraham "Dommoni" Boice who married Anna Cantine (bap. 1756). The farm was bought from the Livingstons. Abraham ran a saw mill on the Bushkill that flows a few hundred feet from the house. Of the ten children Abraham and Anna had, eight survived and their lineage grew many local branches.

We first looked briefly at the house. It was originally a one-room New World Dutch stone house with cellar and loft. The cellar has 5-bays, or spaces between the beams. The rough hewn oak beams are much heavier that the beams in the room above which has 4-bays. The three internal beams are each something like 6x10-inches and finished. Evidently no intention to use the loft for anything but light storage.

The wide jam bed fireplace, its mantel and its cellar support are very original. Charles Weidner's father bricked the back of the fireplace to create a smoke shelf but on the angled jambs there are the re used left and right cast iron side plates of a 5-plate stove. The relief depicts the miracle of the oil. Charles' wife says that there are two more plates behind the brick back. I could not match the plates to any of the 20 side and front plates of similar stoves illustrated in H. Mercers book The Bible in Iron but I would guess the Boice plates date circa 1720 and were cast in Germany.

Elwyn Davis in his 1930 History of West Shokan: Eden of the Catskills describes John Byse (Boice) as "a man of great strength and stature, said to have adhered to the Loyalist cause during the Revolution, settled at an early date and acquired a considerable tract of land from the Livingstons. His residence was of logs and (stood) upon the site of the stone house on the reservoir property...Here he raised a sturdy family. This massive stone house and the nearby Dutch type barn, which with the stone structure now owned by Charles H. Weidner, are monuments to the Boice family."

John Boice's "massive stone house" is gone but the "stone structure" that was Abraham's house, begun in circa 1805, survives and perhaps parts of John's barn. We did a quick inspection and measurement of the barn. It is thought that Fred Weidner, Charles' uncle, had the barn put up in about 1923 using parts from nearby Reservoir barns. There are reused parts throughout the barn and its. additions but in the main 3-bay frame, the bents and plates are from an early square-rule swing-beam barn of about 1810. It has evidence of an original side entrance only on one side which makes me think it might have originally been a salt box with a back aisle. It should be studied more carefully. It could be the "Dutch type barn" Elwyn Davis writes of.

Saturday, April 22 about 8 people met at the Oliver barn in Marbletown and did a clean up. Laurense Erusard, the owner, came by. We went wi.th Fred Steuding and Richy Comeford to see the nearby Palen Dutch barn they are working on. Then with George Van Syckle to see a house in the woods nearby. It is a small mid- to early-19th century frame house in fair shape but abandoned and will not last long with a large hole in the aluminum roofing.

April 28 to 30 about 90 people attended a Traditional Timberframers Conference (TTRAG), an advisory group within the Timber Framers Guild (TFG). It was held on Lake George at the Silver Bay Conference Center. Friday began in the wooded hills above the Center with a tree felling workshop lead by Randy Nash and Greg Wellott. Greg demonstrated up-to-date techniques for felling trees. How to gage height and angle, and how to control the direction of fall by the use of wedges. On Saturday afternoon we returned to the woods with Jack Sobon who spoke on tree selection for a timber frame, how harvesting wood changes the forest, and how to be more ecological and less wasteful in planning the harvest for a timber frame.

Saturday was filled with demonstrations. These included the use of a portable band saw mill by its owner Dave Bowman and a two man presentation from the Vermont Slate & Copper Services. This. small-scale demonstration included both the history of the use of slate and the tools and experience of the craftsman in applying and repairing slate roofs. The night was filled with the annual Open Slide Show coordinated by Russell Ley. Limited to ten slides each the presentations included new construction projects with traditional models and restoration and analysis of historic frames. Hudson Valley Vernacular (SPHVVA) presented the hay barrack.

Sunday morning was a 6-man panel discussion on the evolution of American timber framing. The members have studied and worked on traditional barn and house frames in the parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts that they come from. .Each described the development of timberframe construction in their area, primarily in barns. They discussed the initial settlement of the area, when and from where the people had come. The Mid-Hudson Valley was included with western Massachusetts and presented by Jack Sobon. He used the 6-bay Lawyer barn, reconstructed in Columbia County, New York, and the 1766 Niewkerk/Kaufman barn in Hurley, Ulster County as examples of Dutch frames. He talked about the ethnic structure of the major-minor rafter system in the Niewkerk barn and of the development of the English style rafter system in western Massachusetts.

Rudy Christian is organizing the thatched hay barrack project to be conducted at the 4th International Preservation Trades Workshop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, November 12-13. This barrack will eventually be erected at the reconstructed pioneer homestead at the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster County to replace the present one. Rudy asked me to submit a plan but a later call to Steve Miller, the director of Landis Valley, brought up the appropriateness of a Hudson Valley barrack in Pennsylvania.

About 10 years ago when I first became interested in the barrack Steve had given me copies of writings about Pennsylvania barracks. There was nothing, I recall, to do with roof structure. It will be interesting to learn what new information there is on Pennsylvania barracks.

Friday May 5, with Bob Hedges we visited three sites:

1. a complex in Galitan (Gal-1) Columbia County with a 3-bay square-rule side-entrance grain-barn with two end additions, a 16 x 24 carriage house with a com crib and a circa 1830 frame house. There are many parts of hay barracks reused in the straw shed added to the west end of the barn. The frame and many other details of the barn, like door latches and a black ink drawing, should be documented. We documented !he barrack parts and took photographs.
2. the _/Domonique (Sta-3) 2-bay carriage house circa 1850 in Stanfordville, Dutchess County. This has many original features including a stake manger on the north side of the building. We measured the building and the manger.
3. The _/Wood (PP-1) 3-bay Dutch scribe-rule barn circa 1820, Pine Plains, Dutchess County. We examined the barn for the display planned for the Silver Ribbon Tour.

Saturday May 20, about 20 people attended a Dutch Barn Preservation Society (DBPS) tour of five Schoharie County barns in the Middleburg area organized by Harold Zock.

1. The Stone Fort, 2._/Bouck 3._/Southert , 4. Haynes/Lacko and 5. Bellenger/Herodden. All the barns have pine, frames.

2. This is a 4-bay square rule Dutch barn circa 1830 with dropped ties in three bents, heavy braces and converted to a side entrance. The aisles are of unequal width and its columns unequal in height. There are raising holes near the top of the columns. There are two circa 14 foot tapered poles in the loft which are thought to be sweeps for barracks. If so they are the only ones known to survive They look like large crochet needle. Harold knows of some others. They have no holes for the fulcrum so must have rested the pin. They show use.

3. This is a 4-bay square rule Dutch barn converted later to a side entrance. It has extended wedged tenons and diminished shoulders on the anchorbeams. There is evidence of original har-hung doors on one side. Most columns have two raising holes. One has one. There is a hole in one beam for a threshing pole.

4. This is a 4-bay square rule Dutch barn with square shoulders and stub tenons on its anchorbeams. The raising holes are near the top of the columns. It had a threshing pole. It is a rare Schoharie true-form barn according to Harold.

5. This is a 3-bay swing beam barn circa 1840. The rafters butt and one set of side doors have original key hinges. The circa 25 foot swing beam has one tenon and no shoulder and measures 17 x 13 at the post and 20 x 13 in the center.

Tuesday, May 30 Just about to go to press and got a call from Ann C. Barcher, supervisor of the Town of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County. The Pyramid Corporation, developers, have bought 18 acres across for the Vassar College farm off Cedar Avenue and are planning to develop it with 12 houses and destroy a Cider Mill on the property. The building was built in 1853 and has gone through additions and alterations. The farm goes back to the 17th - century. The building was used until recently and is an important landmark in the community. Ann has put a stop to the immediate destruction of the mill but she and a county legislator, Kristin Jemiolo, are actively looking for ways to use and preserve the mill. If you have input or want information call: Ann Barcher (914) 435-3607 or Kristin Jemiolo (914) 485-3768. We will follow up on the story and give what assistance we can.

From the Editor...The re-named and nearly official new organization (SPHVVA) now has 106 paying members, $219 in the working account and $469 in the Oliver Barn Fund. Membership renewal forms are being sent to those who joined before May 1999.

On Saturday May 20, 2000, a short meeting was held at the Winne/Creble house in Bethlehem, Albany County, future projects were discussed. Six trustees of the society signed the articles of incorporation. They were Peter Sinclair, James Decker, Roger Scheff, Todd Scheff, Alvin Sheffer and John Stevens. Article II, Purpose, reads,

The purpose of The Society for the Preservation of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture shall be to survey, record, research and preserve the traditional, rural and vernacular architecture of the Hudson Valley. The organization proposes to develop a public archive and to display, interpret and preserve artifacts related to the region's pre-history and historic material cultures. The society aims to promote public awareness about the preservation of historic buildings and cultural artifacts, to raise funds and to take steps necessary to help preserve them.

About 2.0 people attended the meeting and inspection of the circa 1720 Winne/Creble/Parker house in Albany County with its new owner Brian Parker. The house is lucky to have Brian who is interested in the history archaeology of the site and is a restoration craftsman and contractor from the area.

Much more of the frame and original structure is exposed now. A number of new observations have been made. Especially interesting was tracing evidence for the development of the corner stairs, no longer there, and discovering that there was a door and a cross-casement window at either end of the original two room house. The frame of the back window that had fixed leaded windows in the upper openings and shutters on the lower, was found inside the wall almost intact. John Stevens, with the help of Jim Decker and Roger Scheff, took further measurements of the newly exposed frame for a drawing. A local archaeological group are doing a dig around the house. Many details of the frame match those of the nearby, smaller Cueyman house that might pre date this Winne house.

Some people went to see the Wemp/Touhey barn restored in Feura Bush with the DBPS six-pole thatched hay barrack. It was a wetish day and a horse was enjoying the protection of the straw thatch. Carl Touhey, the present owner was nome doing yard work. Some of the group helped him plumb (make vertical) a newly planted alder, thus bringing order to the future of the tree and its landscape. Like the Frederick Dutch barn in Stone Arabia, the Wemp barn has upper ties on the external bents and such pride in craftsmanship that the braces have chamfers with lamb tongues.

Later a group went to the nearby 1812 Verplank/Collins 6-bay Dutch barn that Bob Anderson had arranged. The road, Route 143, was formerly the Westerloo-Cueyman Plank Road, according to Albert Collins, the present owner, who with his wife Pearl and their son, still farm and use the barn for hay storage. He recalls the stories his father told him of local hay farming. He remembers individuals whose names and dates are written on the beams and columns, along with the weights of hay bales, all written in a fluid black calligraphy. This harvest writing is widespread in Hudson Valley barns. Often they include a joke or caricature.

The Collins house is an 1803 two-story brick house in Dutch bond, with a story and a half kitchen wing and, in the tradition of the Hudson Valley Dutch, was recently lengthened with a new brick addition for Albert and Pearl's son.

This 6-bay Dutch barn has some later alterations in the bents but it still has three-part wooden hinged wagon doors at one end and impressive original roof structure. The purlin plates are each a single timber, perhaps 70-feet long. The 14-pcurs of hewn rafters have birds mouths where they join the wall plate. Two unusual features of the roof structure; there were collar ties in every other pair of rafters until a track track was installed and there was an upper longitudinal strut just bellow the purlin braces between each of the seven pairs of columns, evidently to stabilize the very tall verdipingh. There are drop tie beam only on the external bents. The extended tenons of the anchorbeams have a decorative form found in the. area, perhaps the mark of one carpenter. It seems to have been a true-form Dutch barn. It should be measured and documented.

A few of the group drove up to the Mohawk Valley to see two Dutch barns there. On the way we stopped and inspected the Fredrick Dutch barn in Stone Arabia. A large section of the roof has been blown off recently and unless it is repaired soon the survival of this barn of unusual craftsmanship and proportions is endangered.

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