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HVVA Newsletters

From the JOURNAL
Saturday, June 3, 2000 with John Kaufman to the Herkimer Home State Site, Little Falls, Herkimer County. About 20 people, under supervision of Scottish Master Thatcher, Colin McGhee, worked together on the reed thatch roof of the new hay barrack built last year by Edward Johnson and friends, volunteers, who also harvested about an acre of water reed from a nearby wetland for the job.

The principals of attaching the reed are traditional but Colin uses some new and more time efficient methods. Rather than a sapling he uses thin cold rolled iron bar, perhaps 1/16-inch diameter, to hold the row of bundles of reed down. With a cordless screw gun he fastens a loop of stainless steel wire to the batten and twists this tight over the iron bar with a mechanical device that pulls and twists the wire tight. Rather than a smooth surface thatch that would be applied to a cottage, the barrack thatch is thinner and Colin kept the steps of each row of bundles distinct. He figures it's good for 15 years.

Thursday, June 8 with Bob Hedges visited the _/Dedrick Mill (PP-6) on Schultz Hill Road east of Pine Plains. It is a 3-bay square rule hewn frame of oak and pine mid-nineteenth century in fair condition. The stone foundation and roof are in good condition. There are no raising holes and the rafters butt with later collar ties. None of the machinery remains but the complex and specialized frame with built in parts suggest how it was originally used probably as a wood working shop with line shafts and belt power. It is one of two water mills remaining in Pine Plains. The other is a grist mill with much of its original machinery intact but in overall worse shape. We will try and get back to the sites with people more knowledgeable of mills.

Saturday, June 10 with Jim Decker to the Bevier/Niewkirk (Waw-5) stone house to do a work report This house is still in fragile condition but slowly improving. Darren, The present owner, has offered to pay for supplies and food for a volunteer work crew to stabilize and rebuild areas of stone in the front and center cellar walls. Darren has cut the replacement timber for the last rafter plate repair.

1. In the cellar, the door frame must first be repaired and four or five temporary support posts placed under some of the beams. The collapsed wall will be moved to the side, a foundation prepared and the wall rebuilt with the door frame.

2. The front wall repair on the right side addition requires the stone to be removed to bellow the sill of the window, the door frame repaired and the window frame re made in a traditional fashion. The stone wall will then be replaced. This job will require a scaffold and should include the demolition of the cement steps. One cause of the wall failure was that the addition wall was not tied into the original stone work. This could be assisted with internal metal rods in the wall's rebuilding.

Also with Jim Decker to the Frederick Lundi Estate (Waw-6) in Wawarsing, Ulster County. Lundi was a NYC restaurateur who built this estate from the 1920s on. There are a number of buildings. We examined the circa 1760 two-room eight-bay Dutch stone house, probably Vernoy family. Most of the interior is covered with metal lath and rock hard tan cement. The original floors are preserved under a new one, easily removed and much of the window and door frames as well as the two end wall fireplaces are preserved bellow the stucco. One cellar beam needs replacement and one hearth support needs repair.

The house has a well preserved early 19th century wooden porch with chamfered posts. The front posts have been replaced with masonry columns that along with all the modern exterior cement work should eventually be removed. The house is in good condition its wood shingle roof has another 25 years.

In a phone conversation with Wendy Harris, she urged us to look at another farm on a side road to the right just past the Lundi house and barns. They welcome our input. Wendy, along with Harry Hansen, are doing an historic background check and an evaluation of the sites and structures on the Lundi estate for the Open Space Institute (OSI) of NYC, an organization that has recently acquired this large property with intent to make it a nature preserve with eventual NYS and DEC protection.

Things are in the beginning stages for this land preserve on the Vernoy Kill with 23 registered sites, ruins of a Hornbeck Homestead, a bark-peelers log cabin and a hoop-shaver's shop, and 12 standing structures, three of them barns with Dutch framing influence.

Tuesday, June 13 with Tom Coluce to see a barn on the Stony Kill on Upper Granite Road, Rochester, Ulster County, _/Kushner/Lithco/Coluce (Roc-11). He is dismantling it to move it. The original 3-bay hewn frame is a mix of pine, oak and chestnut. It is a side entrance barn 26 x 40 with a one bay sawn frame addition and a 20 x 30 2-bay salt box hewn frame addition at the other end. All the braces are sawn and have no pins. There are raising holes in the 3-bay barn and the sawn frame addition but not in the smaller salt box. The pole rafters butt at the peak and have a 10 to 12 inch overhang where they meet the plate. There are no purlins. It had a hay track perhaps original to the barn. It is similar to the Van Wagenen/Baker barn #421 in the Rochester register but perhaps later, circa 1870. The original timber frame house is probably contemporary with the barn but is much altered and added to.

Tuesday, June 20 about 20 people attended a meeting of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society on Louis Caputzal's farm in Sheffield, in southwestern Massachusetts. Louis and his wife Lissa have been long time active members in the DBPS and have hosted many cook-outs for Society events.

The Caputzal farm is a small but up-to-date horse powered farm with milking goats and spotted piglets. The land is hilly and limited for the Caputzal family who are looking to eventually move their operation to a more open and rural area, perhaps in New York State. There are many things to see on the farm but of special interest is the Dutch barn that Louis designed and had built in the fall of 1989.

Louis Caputzal first heard of a Dutch barn when Richard Babcock gave a talk at the local historical society. It was shortly after 1982 when Richard had dismantled and re-erected a Dutch barn at Phillipsburg Manor in Terry town. Louis soon discovered John Fitchen's book and eventually the DBPS.

There was a covered wooden bridge near the Caputzal farm. (I.) It had been built in 1952 to replace a wash-out but was damaged by an overloaded truck and dismantled about thirty years later. Louis acquired the timbers. They were of perfect dimension for the H-bents of a 40 x 32 foot three-bay true-form Dutch barn. He drew the plan with a narrow 16 foot nave and 12 footside aisles and a 13 foot anchorbeam clearance for his hay wagon.

In two-weeks during November, while Louis completed the foundation, Clayton and Charlie Babcock, sons of Richard, cut and erected the frame using their father's boom truck. They neither drilled nor used raising holes. Later Louis' neighbors and friends helped side it. In December, Richard Babcock came and installed the two sets of wooden hinged wagon doors.

Ned Pratt and others are working on a display for the Albany Airport which will interpret the New World Dutch barn.

1. The Bissell Road Bridge in Charlamont is an identical surviving example. Timbers are of a west coast wood.

Friday, June 30 to the Bates/Spalding/Myers/Pallella/Nitsco farm in South Westerloo, Albany County on the northern boundary of Greene County. It is on a piece of land with views of the Catskill and Berkshire Mountains, the third generation owner, Mario Nitsco, (518) 828-2466, is looking for a use for his large hillside covered ramp barn as a rental. It is a mid 19th century 3-bay square-rule side-entrance barn. with long massive pine timbers. The tie beams are 40-foot long. The 60 foot wall plates are in two sections. There are rare through-double-tenons on the beams that support the upper floor in the center bay. The frame is in good condition. Like the Dutch barn, of which it is a descendant, it served to store crops and animals in one building. There are raising holes circa 10" below the tie beams. It has a raised-seam metal roof, one twelve foot section in need of repair that is planned.

Mario would like to build a studio or living space up in one of the bays and leave the majority of the interior open. This seems to be a good method of using and saving a large timber frame barn. He is willing to sign a 20 year lease. He is young, open to suggestions, lives in nearby Hudson and drives a motorcycle.

From the Editor... The new organization (SPHVVA) now has 113 paying members, $230 in the working account and $384 in the Oliver Barn Fund. Membership renewal forms are being sent to those who joined before June 1999.

On Saturday, June 24, 2000, at 11AM a short meeting was held at Hudson Valley Vernacular's (HVV's) temporary headquarters in the Oliver Barn in Marbletown, Ulster County. The signatures of the seven trustees of the society who signed the articles of incorporation were notarized. They were Peter Sinclair, James Decker, Roger Scheff, Todd Scheff, Alvin Sheffer, Bob Hedges and John Stevens. These were later sent to the NYS Department of Education with a $100 check from the Oliver Barn Fund and it will take at least a month before we have an official status.

A volunteer work party for the Bevier/Niewkerk house in Warwarsing was discussed with the owner, Darren Romero. He will let us know when the window and door frame repairs are ready and a group will then do masonry repairs. Plans for future events were discussed. Roger and Todd will arrange for a July tour of newly discovered Dutch barns near Stormville in Southern Dutchess County and in August Tom Coluce will arrange a tour in the Gardiner-New Paltz area of Ulster County. A Staten Island trip is still planned for November.

Some people brought artifacts. Bob Eurich showed a mid 18th century 12 lite sash from an Orange County house. The glass panes measure 7 x 9 inches, typical of the Hudson Valley. 6 x 8-inch panes are found in New England. The sash had two unique hand forged handles on long springs for raising and holding the window open. Alvin Wanzer donated five iron objects excavated from a blacksmith shop in Ulster County and an early and unique iron shutter-dog from Dutchess or Albany County.

A number of small artifacts have been given to us and will be documented and registered. One object on loan, and on display in the Oliver barn is a 19th century Ulster County farm wagon from Wawarsing with hay rigging from Rochester. One of the wagon wheels has gone to New Holland, Pennsylvania for repair and the rigging is being given coats of linseed oil. The wagon fits the barn well. When raised and holding a load of hay, the back gallus of the rigging clears the anchorbeam by circa 8". There are wear marks on the front gallus that make me thing the 16 foot long crochet needles we saw in a Schoharie barn last month, that were identified as hay barrack levers, could be just as well be used to hold down a load of hay on a wagon.

At noon a group went with Dave Baker, Hurley Town Historian, for a tour of the village center from the Dutch Church, past the burying ground, east to the end of the street. Using early photographs and talking of his knowledge of the properties we examined about eight stone houses. In the Spy House, we were able to see interior evidence of an early 7 bay two-room center chimney stone house. Although converted to jambed fireplaces at a later time, Dave says the original brick hood still exists in the loft.

At about 2 PM the group visited the Bogart Dutch barn complex. This barn, in very original condition, is dated 1812 but there is reason to believe the frame includes H-bents of two earlier barns and there are many reused barrack parts. In 1813 Jacob Ousterhout cut his full name on one of the purlins and his assistants their initials on the other. Finally, for those who had never seen it, we visited the Niewkerk/Kaufman Dutch barn in Hurley to examine its intriguing 1766 major-minor rafter system. In the loft are about four cradle-scythes and some fresh sheafs of grain to repair the thatch of the Wemp barrack in Albany county.

Last Sunday I went to the antique show at the 1737 VanAllen museum house in Columbia County. The building was restored in the late 1960's. None of the original window frames had survived and in the restoration they were interpreted as casement frames that had hinged sashes with wide wooden muntins. It appears now that the windows very likely had leaded sash as we are finding evidence of in the circa 1690 Bevier/Elting house in New Paltz, the circa 1720 Winne/Creble house in Albany County, the 1745 Oliver house in Marbletown and the 1743 Brink house in Sauegerties. According to John Stevens, who has been calling our attention to the evidence, in Holland the use of leaded windows stopped in the late 1600's while in the Hudson Valley the practice lasted to the mid-1700s. Casement windows with wooden muntin sashes were a transition to the vertical moving sash and evidence of them has been found on the circa 1760 addition to the Creble house.

On the way home I stopped at Rod Blackburn's Antique shop in Kinderhook. Rod began as an African anthropologist but is also the author of many books and article on the material culture and architecture of the Hudson Valley. In addition to antiques he sells a few books and I acquired a rare and out-of-print copy of A Remnant in the Wilderness. New York Dutch Scripture History of the Early Eighteenth Century, a 72 page catalogue of an exhibition of paintings produced by The Albany Institute of History and Art in 1980 and written by six people, including Rod. It is an important book in the study of New World Dutch history and culture.

Based on research into the 38 surviving examples of "scripture history paintings," one with a signature, the authors assign possible artists and dates to each. They trace the development of this art form from its domestication in Holland in the early 1500s during the Calvinist take over of the Catholic churches to its demise in the last quarter of the 1600s when "...the Dutch began to loose interest in the subject matter and style of art they had produced in previous decades."

1690-1750 might approximately date the period in which scripture history paintings were produced in the Hudson Valley. 1750 might also be the date for the replacement of leaded glass windows with wood sash. Three generations of the Duyckinck family who were painters of scripture history paintings as well as portraits were also glaziers, that is, they constructed, installed and repaired the leaded windows.

Rod Blackburn who has just learned computer graphics is becoming the architect of a Dutch room with leaded casement windows for a client who lIves in Massachusetts. It will be based on the surviving casement window frames in the Coeyman house in Albany county. Danskoy of Kingston will be the glazier.

Peter Sinclair, editor

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