NEWSLETTER, December 2000
From the JOURNAL
Saturday October, 28, 2000 about 25 people attended the annual meeting of the DBPS in Kingston, Ulster County, that Niel Larson arranged at the Hoffman House restaurant. The restaurant is a stone house in the stockade area, parts of which survived the 1777 burning of the town by the British. The meeting was preceded by a tour of the nearby Persen house, directed by the architect Ken Barcolo, who is conducting the restoration. This stone house, owned by Ulster County, is being made into a museum. The original foundation dates to the late 17th-century. The Persen house was a victim to the 1777 fire and rebuilt soon after, and quickly added to. It is a very complex structure. Ken has finished an extensive historic buildings report. It is rather large with many photographs and drawings. Only 30 copies were printed so that they are not yet available to the public.
Some of the group visited the temporary headquarters of HVV A at the Oliver barn in Marbletown. Bud Miner who is doing a survey of Mohawk Valley Dutch barns passed along his new on-line #...firstname.lastname@example.org http://nwdb2000.bizland.com
Monday, October 30 with Barry Benape, of Saugerties, to see the _/Davis/Mauder (Uls-Oli-2) 3-bay scribe rule Dutch Barn enlarged in the 20th century with a gambrel roof. As far as is known, this is the last Dutch barn to survive in the Township of Olive, Ulster County.
There is an original 6-bay, stone house with additions located more than 300 feet from the barn. It seems contemporary with the barn, circa 1790-1800. The original house was a side hall house. It has a four bay fireplace room with three internal beams of equal dimension and no trimmers. The shallow two bay side hall was unheated.
The barn seems to have originally. been a 3 bay Dutch barn with one set of its four-part wooden hinged wagon doors set in an internal bent #3 creating an open bay, a plan that is found in several nearby barns. The open bay is 20' deep with four-beams set longitudinally at a 7 foot height, very like the lowered mow in a U-barn plan and making the barn longer than wide.
The roofing of the barn needs replacement and the right corner post is totally rotted away. In general, aside from one end of the anchorbeam in bent #2, the main oak frame is in good condition and the purlin plates intact. We did not looK at sills. The side walls are new construction, perhaps using old parts, raised to fit the new configuration, circa 1900-1940, when queen posts were set on the anchorbeams to support the new higher purlins for the gambrel roof.
The owner can not afford extensive repairs and has had several offers for the barn. One possible way to save the frame is to move and reconstruct it at a nearby public site in its original form. A builder who lives nearby, will be giving an estimate on the corner and roof repairs for a NY State barn grant.
The barn is larger than the owner's needs. A possible exchange for the Dutch frame might be a smaller replacement barn built from wood salvaged from the dismantled barn and constructed using the concrete foundation that would remain when the Dutch frame is removed.
Thursday, November 1 with Roger and Todd Scheff met with Marilyn B. Vitolo, Barns and Farms Realty (518) 822-0226 to see the John Beckwith/Cookingham/Klein frame house (Dut-RH-16). The house and 32 acres are for sale for $435,000.
The house is traditionally dated 1732 but a brief inspection did not reveal any obvious fabric that early. The site was known as Saulpaugh Hill. The house is mentioned in J.H.Smith's history of Dutchess County.
It seems that the present, late 18th century Palatine/Dutch frame house, began as a 25' 6" wide by 22' 6" long one room side hall with a cellar kitchen, exactly like the 1747 Germantown stone Parsonage a few miles north. The cellar of the original house was lengthened and a 15' 10" long frame was added to the original frame. This would have formed a two-room center-hall house but they planned the addition for a partition and an off center fireplace, forming a three-room center-hall.
There was a close-by but separate (15' wide by 16' 6" long) summer kitchen that was eventually incorporated into the main house with additions. There were the remains of two barns in the 1960s when the present family bought the property. One was Dutch. A number of pad hinges were salvaged from the house and Dutch barn.
Saturday, November 4 about ten people from the DBPS and HVVA societies met in Upper Saddle River, Bergen County, New Jersey with George Turrell at the 1739 Hopper/Goetschius house museum. The site has a restored and furnished red-sandstone house with gambrel roof and flared eves, this distinct late 18th-century style house that is seen so often in Bergen County and in Putman County to the north in New York. The site also has a 3 bay Dutch barn that was brought from a nearby Tice farm and restored to its original true-form configuration by George Turrell, using some of Willis Barshid's information to lay the threshing floor. The barn is filled with tools and wagons and the open summer kitchen near the house is filled with the smell of smoke. This is a very active local group who maintain and use the site.
Recently the Hopper-Goetschius Museum moved a small mid-19th century 3 bay frame house, the Ramsey-Sayer house, to the site and it is undergoing restoration. Small vernacular houses of this basic type with nothing beyond the necessities of living are important artifacts too often neglected because they lack style and ornament.
We next drove to Clarkstown, Rockland County, NY, to visit the Paul Schuller house and Post barn museum. (see DBPS newsletter Vol. 12, No.1.) This is a small two-room Dutch frame house built in two sections. The original, late 18th century room, has a restored jambless fireplace and the added room a jam bed fireplace with a Federal mantel. George Turrell has been restoring this house, owned by the township with an historic minded supervisor, for a number of years and most recently moved a 3 bay Dutch barn, the Post barn, to the site and restored it to its original true-form conditIon. The Post and Tice barns share many regional elements of proportion and structure.
We next drove to the Perry/Blauvelt 1752-1776-1831 house in Orangetown, Rockland County and met with Mary Cardinas, Orangetown historian. The history of this property is given on pages 203 & 204 in Rosalie Fellows Bailey's Dutch Houses, the 1929 book that remains a principle study of the families and architecture of northern New Jersey and southern New York. The house is part of a site recently bought by Mercedes Benz Corporation on which to build an office complex or a luxury automobile assembly plant and in this 95 acres of wooded rolling land, a Rockland County Eden, there is no other way to build a parking lot but to demolish this old and abandoned building with plywood sheets nailed to its openings. But, the corporation is thinking of alternatives too,like going somewhere else. So, meanwhile, the weeds grow taller and the signs read "keep-out" and "Beware of the dangerous electronic dog and the policeman who keeps the key to the lock on the chain across the driveway."
We were unable to get into the small 1752 west wing. The east wing is dated 1776 and the large center-hall Greek Revival house with gambrel roof is dated 1831. Despite its late date, the 1831 house retains a number of Dutch features like its door hardware. One things of interest on the site is the stone summer kitchen with jambless fireplace.
Next we drove to the Salyer house circa 1800-1810, the Orangetown Historical Society and archives, an active center for preserving local documents, organizing displays and educational programs. This is like all the houses visited, a gambrel roof house, in this case a red sandstone, center-hall example restored in the 20th century with some understanding to detail. The front windows are presently pairs of tan casement windows. The frames are original and reveal that the windows had a fixed sash above and a lower sliding sash. The fireplace rooms are 5-bays deep and the finished ceiling beams have been split from a square beam, revealing heartwood and warpage on one side. This is similar in other houses seen here.
The last site visited was the abandoned Voltz house on the Orangetown Municipal Golf Course and threatened with destruction because the Town's Parks Department can't think of anything to use it for, this attractive gambrel roof frame house, circa 1790-1805, is in excellent condition.
Sunday, November 5 with Alvin Sheffer and Roger Scheff went on a tour of sites with about twenty five members of the Albany area chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, organized by Ned Pratt and others. We visited: 1. the Wemp Dutch barn and the Touey stone house in Fuer Bush, 2. the Teunis Slingerland brick house (S. Dunn, The Polgreen Photographs page 72), 3. the Winne/Creble house in Bethlehem (DBPS Vol 11, No 2. and 4. the Tobias Ten Eyck brick house (Dunn page 88). We had coffee and a nice meeting with Sally Light afterwards ana talked about the tour she is planning of her area at the Connecticut boarder next spring.
November 11 and 12 at The Landis Valley Farm Museum in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for the construction of a 14-foot four-pole barrack. The Landis Valley Museum was founded in 1925 by the Landis brothers and is an active out-door museum dedicated to preserving the culture and history of the Pennsylvania German farmers. On their re-created pioneer farm with a log house and barn there is a 20-year-old straw thatched hay barrack now in a state of collapse. The new barrack that will replace it will have a traditional frame based on the research of artifacts and documents in the Hudson Valley. About 25 timber framers from all parts of North America, most members of the Timber Framers Guild (TFG), came with their tools and trucks to convert a pile of recently cut white-oak logs into 32 timbers for the roof frame. Many of the carpenters were experienced and some, like myself, novice. The work was supervised by Rudy of Christian & Son Inc. from Ohio.
Much of the work was in hewing the timbers with axes. The largest timbers, the plates and major-rafters, were faced smooth with broad axes while the smaller spars, or minor rafters were mostly worked with felling axes. Because of the irregular size and shape of the spars Rudy used a plumb-bob and scribe-rule to fit them.
November 13 and 14, 2000 the unfinished barrack parts were moved from Landis Valley to the large arena at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg for the 4th Annual International Preservation Trades Workshop. Many hundreds of people attended this conference of 80 exhibits, demonstrations and presentations of the restoration crafts organized by Preservation Trades Network (PTN). The PTN contact list, mostly restoration craft persons and organizations contains 335 addresses. Individual membership in PTN is $45 and student $25, PO Box 257, Mastic, NY 11950; (631) 281-1348.
Especially interesting was the traditional Pennsylvania rye thatch workshop by Richard Moraux and Wilham Ross. They provided a copy of a 1982 article from the Journal of the Pennsylvania German Society by Robert Bucher and Alan Keyser which is the most compete on the subject. The craft was no longer practiced after 1940, but Bucher and Keyser were able to interview the last practitioners so that it was saved. Pennsylvania thatch is a middle European technique quite different from the English thatch we are more familiar with. There are turn of the century photographs of barns and barracks In Orange County, New York, and New Jersey which display evidence of a similar tradition. In considering what thatch would be historically accurate for the Hudson Valley, African traditions might also be examined as their people were among the earliest immigrants and likely to have been used as thatchers.
The barrack workshop was an enjoyable and informative event but the resulting frame of the barrack roof is historically inaccurate in a number of ways. The frame is too heavy, especially the spars or minor rafters that should be sapling poles, and the rafter holes in the plates should not be blind but drilled through. Ideally it is a light flexible structure.
Saturday November 25 The thermometer read 18 degrees and about 25 people went on a barn tour organized by Bob Hedges and sponsored by the Little Nine Partners Historical Society, the group that is restoring the Graham/Brush log cabin in Pine Plains, Dutchess County. (see newsletter vol 1, no 4) Five barns were visited, two in Dutchess County in the Stissing Mountain area of Pine Plains and three in Columbia County in the township of Gallitan.
1. Hedges/Herrick (Dut-PP-3) is a 3 bay side entrance barn of about 1715 with a scribe-rule oak frame. A 1-bay scribe rule frame was added on one end and a 1-bay square-rule on the other. While its frame is very Dutch its plan and its vertical siding show a New England influence.
2. Hamm/Woods (Dut-PP-1) is a small 3 bay true form Dutch 3 aisle barn with weather board siding built in 1821. An unusual feature of the frame is the use of wedged dovetailed joining.
3. _/Grasse (Dut-PP-2) is a tall 3 bay side entrance barn of about 1850 with a light square-rule frame and many original features of its uses.
4. Ding/Silvernails (Col-Gal-2) is a large 3 bay side entrance barn with vertical siding of about 1760. Its scribe-rule bents are 45-feet wide with continuous center supported beams. It is 50-feet long with scarfed purlins. It has marriage marks with flags.
The history of this farm is especially interesting. Situated on the Rolof Janson Kill at the confluence of the Chamaco Kill, the farm was settled by Hans Ding, a Dutchman, after 1683. It was sold by Livingston to the Dings in about 1748 as part of his plan to hold the outer lands of his uninhabited manor against the invasion of land hungry New Englanders, and to eventually rent the surrounding land as the land market got tighter. The Dings got along well with the local Indians but later, when surrounding land was being leased and the surveyors found discrepancies in Ding's claims, particularly to his mill site, he sold the 360 acre farm back to Livingston and move to Pennsylvania. In 1825 Livingston deeded it to John Silvernails.
5. Smith/Mintzer (Col-Gal-1) is a small barn with bay side entrance mid-19th century barn with a square-rule frame and two small side additions. One of these is a straw-mow with a number of reused hay-barrack parts. (see page 2 newsletter vol 2, no 2).
Bob Hedges has worked restoring barns in this area and feels it has many examples representing an early mixing of Hudson Valley Dutch and New England timber framing, the blend of ideas leading to the 19th century American barn.
Tuesday December 5 To the Reis/Kuhl/Pierson-Sante Farm (Uls-Mar-23) to see the barn in Lamontville, The new owners want to apply for a NYS barn grant. The barn is a large hillside barn with two additions. The frame of the main barn is mostly hewn pine. We saw no reused parts. Its design of space is typical of local barns. It is a vernacular barn but the joining is not traditional for the area. It is probably late 19th century the work of an individual with a good sense of structure. He joined the timbers with lap joints and cut nails. Two features that might connect the builder with a recent immigration from Europe are the centering of the internal braces that are toe nailed with cut nails, and the cow stalls in the cellar that have vertical stakes and are without stanchions.
The most urgent area of repair is the back side of the roof. Some corrugated aluminum sheets have blown off in a number of areas and one rafter needs replacement. Unlike a traditional bent frame this one was put up in stages, the columns are made of three parts yet most of the frame is plumb due to the plumb stone foundation walls that hold the bank, and to some intelligent repairs with laminated pressure-treated posts supporting the back sill. Two other areas of concern are; 1. the wall of support posts in the cellar that are collapsing and, 2. the framing of the wagon doors, once protected by a pentice roof are now water damaged. It would be most economical to build a new door-frame and inset and fasten it to the old damaged frame. The four-part doors should be rebuild using the old hardware and then a pentice roof constructed above it.
December 9 First Meeting of the HVVA Trustees at Spillway
farm in West Hurley. All but one of the following seven trustees attended:
Our provisional charter, valid for five years, was, "Granted, November 10, 2000, by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, for and on behalf of the State Education Department, and executed under the seal of said University and recorded as Number 23,031."
Our purposes are: "To survey, record, research and preserve the traditional, rural and vernacular architecture of the Hudson Valley. To develop a public archive and disseminate information. To collect, display, interpret and preserve artifacts relating to the region's architectural and historic material cultures. To promote public awareness about the preservation of historic buildings. And to raise funds and take steps necessary to help preserve historic buildings."
The HVVA Trustees adopted some common by-laws, Peter Sinclair was selected President, Alvin Sheffer Vice-President and Pam Herrick chosen Technical Advisor. Suggestions for immediate action were...1. Apply for not-for-profit status. 2. Prepare a press release with a photo. 3. Contact other organizations to form partnerships. 4. Find money for computer and newsletter assistance.
The Second Meeting of HVVA Trustees and Friends will be held at 10AM Saturday, January 20 at the Marbletown Firehouse.
This small stone building (page 6-7 Newsletter V-1 N-5) is warm and comfortable for those who wish to talk business or offer assistance. Afterwords, for those more adventurous of the cold, and barring snow drifts and high winds, the nearby Bogart barn will be explored.
While inspecting the Bogart barn complex recently for a NYS Barn Grant with Bob Hedges and Bruce Markoff, the present owner, we discovered a group of light poles used in a mow. We think that these might be surviving barrack rafters and if they are they are the first known examples and may serve as another step in understanding this extinct architectural tradition.
From the Editor:
Our application to the NYS Department of Education has been granted. We have a 5-year provisional charter. A meeting of trustees was held December 9, rules were adopted and officers selected.
HVVA now has 147 paying members, $213 in the working account and $499 in the Oliver barn fund. The next meeting will be held at the Marbletown Firehouse, Saturday 10AM, January 20, 2000.
It has been a busy month here in the HVVA office with proposals for grants from the $2,000,000 NY State Barn PreservatIon Program due December 15. The computer held out bravely but the copy machine fell dead as we approached the final Friday.
HVVA helped several applicants with letters of support interpreting the historic value of their barns. We also helped to prepare grant applications for four Dutch barns in Ulster County which we feel are important artifacts of the regions vernacular architecture that merit special attention. These applications included descriptions of failures, solutions and cost estimates. These four barns are in the townships of Marbletown, Saugerties and Rochester.
In the search for truth we must never blindly trust what is written, even that which we write ourselves. When I read my first account of the early 18th century Winne/Creble house in Albany County in the August 1999 issue of this HVVA Newsletter, I blush at my errors of interpretation, but when I read the article in the Fall 2000 Dutch Barn Preservation Society (DBPS) Newsletter, Raising Holes in East Gelderland, the Netherlands, by Peter Sinclair, I did not believe it.
I did not write that article, honest, it was written by Karen Gross of Breitenheim, Westfalia, Germany, not Peter Sinclair of West Hurley, Ulster County, NY, USA. Karen sent the article to me after I had written her asking about raising holes in Europe and I had forwarded her article to the previous DBPS Newsletter editor about a year ago. In the meantime I was requested to write an article on the subject which I did for the previous DBPS Newsletter. I have suggested the DBPS print up little self-adhesive labels with the correct name and attach them to all the copies of their newsletter (volume 13 issue 2 ).
Sunday, November 19 with Roger and Todd Scheff to see the Weaver/Menti Dut-RH-17) stone and frame house, also a 2 aisle Dutch barn at the site. The barn frame is light, a mid 19th century square rule with evidence of changes. the property is owned by John Menti. The property is for sale but there have been no offers and if it does not sell in one year John is thinking of taking it off the market and retiring there. He has owned it for 30 years.
We talked with him about our idea to have the HVVA Society raise money to help to maintain the house and use it to show occasionally. There are several properties of this kind, abandoned well preserved historic houses and barns which have been saved by caring owners but are too costly to restore and often there is no use need. The cost of stabilizing and maintaining such a building to use as a museum and as an above-ground/below-ground archaeological site would be minimal. Because of its small size the Weaver house is especially well suited for such a plan.
Our first interpretation of the Weaver stone house was quite confused, especially the wood front with a scribe rule frame. The well preserved 19th century Greek Revival doorway was clearly later than the frame and the house with its classic New World Dutch beam distribution and rare surviving brick smoke hood were clearly built before 1760.
Stone addition circa 1760
It has one of the few surviving brick smoke hoods in the Hudson Valley, perhaps half a dozen known examples remain. There is evidence in surviving marriage marks that the original frame house had six bays.
Saturday, December 9 we returned with John Stevens to the Weaver/Menti house and he wrote the following detailed report. His conclusion surprised us...
I got a recent call from Jack Sobon, Timber Frame carpenter from Massachusetts who is doing a new chapter on traditional roof framing for his ongoing graphic guide to Historic American Timber Joinery that is being published in the Timber Framers Guild (TGF) quarterly journal. He was looking for information on traditIonal framing of pentice roofs, the shed roofs that are typically placed above the wagon doors on the end wall of New World Dutch barn. He would welcome information on the subject.Karen Gross pointed out to me that the "wolf roof" mentioned in some English translations of 17th century Hudson Valley barn contracts was probably not the same as "pentice roof" as I had thought. The wolf roof is more like a jerkin-head. We have no other evidence than the contracts of how 17th century Dutch barn looked. Perhaps they were more like the barns we saw in Gelderland illustrated on page 4 of the last newsletter. Perhaps our pentice roof was a later development but certainly established here by the early 18th century (see the Van Bergen Overmantle 1732-33). Karen would like to see some untranslated Hudson Valley building contracts.
In the conversation with Jack Sobon I mentioned our observation here that the fireplace room in early Dutch houses in the Hudson Valley normally has four bays and the three internal beams, 20 to 25 feet long, are of unequal dimensions, as in the recently discovered Weaver house in Red Hook. Jack suggested that the three beams may have been cut from one large prime growth tree and that each beam took full advantage of its section of the trunk but that the trunk was tapered resulting in the three unequal sizes. He suggests we check for the size and number of knots in each beam. The largest, the hood beam, would be the clearest and the knots small, while the smallest beam would have more and larger knots.
Bud Miner of Herkimer, NY, who is doing the survey of Schoharie and Mohawk Valley Dutch barns, is also pursuing information on the hay barrack. He talked with the people at Plimoth Plantation which interprets the circa 1630 architecture of the Plimoth Colony. They have a number of primitive structures including a hay barrack which they call a "Dutch barn". They said there is no direct information on their use at this New England site but refereed him to two articles in the British journal Vernacular Architecture which describe their use in England.
1. A 1992 article by W. Haio Zimmermann, The 'Helm' in England, Wales Scandinavia and North America quotes the Swedish naturalist Peter Kalm who described a 14 foot 4 pole example he saw being used to store hay for deer kept in Ashridge Park in Henfordshire in 1748. The poles were 30 feet tall and the thatch was 9-inches thick. There was a brace at each corner of the plate. "When the thatch-roof is to be lifted up," Kalm wrote, "a fellow climbs up at each corner and lifts it up with his shoulders."
The word "Helm," derived from helmet or covering, is the English and Scandinavian word for a temporary: pole structure. The Dutch-German "Barrack," is derived from berg or mountain. Zimmermann wonders if the two structures had separate origins and if the structure that Kahn described in 1748 was influenced by the Dutch barrack.
2. A 1982 article by Donald Woodward, Identifying the Helm: Some East Yorkshire Evidence, uses tax records from Driffield (1538-1669) and found that the Helm was not necessarily associated with the small farm but with the large commercial farm. It was a temporary pole structure and even helm wood was taxed, that is, parts of a helm that were disassembled, perhaps being moved. As in Holland, the helm was used to store peas, hay, and other crops as well as wagons, carts and ladders. A Farming Book of 1640 describes a "long helm" that could accommodate 4 wagons, 2 carts, long ladders and "our wheel barrows." Woodward could find no evidence that helms had adjustable roofs.
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