HVVA NEWSLETTER, November/December 2002
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HVVA Newsletters


Saturday, October 19, 2002:

About 13 people attended the 15th annual meeting of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society held this year at the Schoharie Historical Society in Schoharie County, NY. A tour of three barns was conducted by Harold Zoch, an original trustee of the DBPS and the present historian for the county of Schoharie.

The first barn visited was the_/Medak 4-bay side entrance barn with Dutch frame. The Dutch-ness of this Schoharie barn was apparent as we walked up the dirt side ramp to the 4 part wagon doors with Dutch pad hinges, held shut with a removable center pole, what the Palatines here in Ulster County called the "little-man-in-the-middle" (middelmanns).

Of special interest were two or three re-used parts of 9" x 7" barrack plates with minor rafter holes 2 1/4-inches in diameter, 32-inches on center. The major rafter mortises measure 2 1/4" by 3".

The Medak square-rule barn, contains reused 17 "x 10" anchor beams of a scribe-rule barn. There are a number of re-used parts. The rafters butt, dating it to circa 1835. We took a few measurements. Bent 2. has a double anchor beam like a Dutch U-barn but in this side entrance case might be called a double swing-beam. The beams are not connected. The lower beam supported the load of loose hay above the floor in the first bay and allowed an empty hay wagon to turn around. The higher beam held back the hay. Bay 3. and 4. have a lower floor and are for hay storage. Bent 4. has no anchor beam to interfere with the hay.

The second barn visited was the _/Fornoff 3-bay Dutch Barn. It is a square rule barn with flush anchorbeam tenons and rafters that are pinned, dating it to before circa 1830. It has unusually narrow side aisles Evidence in the sofit of the only original external anchorbeam indicates it originally had wooden-hinged wagon doors on that end. Harold says that he has seldom seen Schoharie Dutch barns with wagon doors at both ends, what has come to be called, a drive-through barn or "true-form New World Dutch barn". There is evidence of horse mangers in the columns on one side. There are no pentice mortises in the external anchor beam.

The last barn visited was in the Town of Jefferson. This round-blade sawn-frame is a large hillside ramp barn built in 1900. It is 100-feet long and perhaps 70 or 80 feet high. It has five levels and a basement. It is an impressive but scary structure with many reused parts. It is an aisle barn with braced side aisles, both of which have a different design. The columns are segmented at each level while the wall posts are continuous. It was designed for storing loose hay for a herd of 100 cows, a large herd at that time.

The basement level was for cows. Its columns indicate the barn is collapsing at this level with one internal column out-of-plumb by a foot. It is not clear what these columns rest on below the cement floor.

The design of the covered ramp over which the wagons brought the hay into the upper level of the barn was changed at some point adding a king-pin truss. There is one horse drawn hay wagon in the barn with wooden spoked wheels; and there is a long pole resting on the tie-beams in the ramp that some thought might be what Everett Rau calls a "binder-pole", a long sapling that fits under the cross bar of the wagon's front "gallis" and is tied down to the back of the wagon. The binder pole, or sometimes two, compresses the loose hay and keeps it from blowing off. It was a devise used in the Netherlands by the 16th century.

Monday, November 4 with John Stevens, Alvin Sheffer, Conrad Fingado, and Bob Demarest we met Ken Sandri of the National Park Service at the Westbrook 4-bay true- form Dutch barn on the Old Mine Road near Milford, New Jersey.

The front end of the Westbrook barn is being re-sided to protect what is probably the original 1800-1810 unpainted weather-board siding with hand wrought nails. It had been preserved bellow a later siding applied about 80years ago. The original boards seem to be carefully graded from circa 6-inches at the bottom to circa 12 at the top. There are three closely spaced martin holes of a design unique to barns in the Hudson, upper Delaware, Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys where this design was once common on barns. It seems to be an emblem, a church or perhaps a bell. Its meaning and origin may be lost but its message is about the diffusion and persistence of the Hudson Valley's New World Dutch Culture.

The Westbrook barn has a unique form of a major minor rafter system The double tenon joining of the columns to the major rafters and purlins seems to have a Germanic style, John Stevens thought. The major rafters are hewn and the two lighter minor rafters between them are poles. From the condition of the siding it appears there was never a pentice roof. There is evidence of outriggers set in the external rafters that allowed for an extended eve that would have given some protection to the entrance.

The wagon does appear to have originally been four-part rail-and-style doors with key-hinges and a removable horizontal pole that held the doors shut. Parts of the frames and hardware of these doors have survived. The door frame was re-sided and fitted with strap hinges in the mid 19th century. The key-hinge style is perhaps English in origin. It uses less iron than the more common strap hinge doors. The key hinge was occasionally used on 19th century barns and its use was wide spread in the region of the Dutch barn.

We next visited the nearby Westbrook/Bell stone house that was built in three sections. This small house is made of cut limestone with low side-walls and high pitched roof. It is thought to have been built early in the settlement of the valley that began in the late 17th century. The house is situated on a bluff above Minnisink Island, an important historic Indian site on the Delaware River. There remained a friendly, tolerant and interactive relationship between natives and newcomers for many decades on this early frontier where New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania join.

We next visited The Knight frame house on The Old Mine Road a few miles south of the VanCampen Inn. It was built in about 1820 and has a corner fireplace with an unusual and impressive mantel. John thought it had a Germanic feel. It is a four room house with a unique frame that has a massive longitudinal center summer beam.

We last drove to Millbrook Village Museum to document the liegender stuhl in the VanCampen house. When we visited the house last (*). John thought that the failure of the liegender stuhl-truss in the VanCampen house was due to the low pitch of the roof. The legs have separated from the principal rafters by 2- or 3-inches and the purlins are sagging in the middle.

Millbrook Days, held the first week end in October attracted 12,000 people this year. Bob Demarest showed us the completed carriage shed and took us through the grist mill presently under construction but we didn't have time to visit the new saw mill also under construction. There are about five active carpenters working part time on these projects at their living history site.

(*) see HVVA Newsletter, Sept. 2002.

Wednesday, November 6, John Stevens sent the drawings and descriptions used in this newsletter.
He hoped I would, "find them useful," and a note saying he was working on a series of drawings showing the development of gambrel roofs.

He must have left Long Island soon after that for Canada because no one answers the phone there, and I have a few questions. I will ask them here and seek input from the readers.

On our HVVA tours of early vernacular buildings, especially those built on the edges of the New World Dutch territory, like that on Long Island or in eastern New York, along side of New England, we have encountered J. R. Sc,tVtl1,S, .5tpr:. Z 000 interesting examples of transplanted and hybrid timber frame construction. On the eastern frontier of New York State it appears to be a Dutch/English exchange. In the Schoharie Valley there are traces of German framing in the tie joints of their Dutch barns, probably introduced with. the 1710 Palatine German Immigration, and apparently there are early German framing traditions mixed with Dutch in the upper Delaware Valley. So what distinguishes Dutch from German timber frame construction and is it especially apparent in the design of trusses?

I had distinguished New World Dutch and Pennsylvania German "leg trusses" by the way Henry Glassie (*), John Stevens John McFarland (**) and others had drawn them with the "leg" of the German liegender stuhl (lying chair) tight against the rafter as in the VanCampen house in New Jersey, whereas in the N.W. Dutch truss the leg rested on the anchorbeam separating it from the rafter, as in John Steven's drawing of the "typical" 17th century Amsterdam house."

Very few, perhaps half-a-dozen "Dutch style trusses" have survived in the Hudson Valley and they were all built in the early 18th century. In the Hudson Valley, scribe-rule timber framing was replaced with square-rule framing by about 1820. I have heard that scribe-rule framing was still being used in the late 19th century in Pennsylvania. This more conservative nature of Pennsylvania carpenters may be why a German Medieval truss is still being used in the VanCampen house that was built in the early 19th century, 75-years after this kind of truss had been abandoned in the New World Dutch territory.

Jorn Wingender's German Frame Typoloqy (***) shows one liegender stuhl with knee walls but as I understand it, it is more common in Germany, to triangulate the rafters with a tie beam as in the VanCampen house. John Stevens' drawing of a liegender stuhl in a building in Germany on the Swiss border seems more Dutch. Since it is a relatively later German building does it show a later development of the knee wall in Germany? Are there, or what are the differences that distinguish German and Dutch leg trusses and what do the Dutch call them?

The Timber Framers Guild (TFG) has been awarded a grant by the National Park Service (NPS), National Center for Preservation Technology and Training to collect and publish information and illustrate representative examples of heavy timber roof trusses that appear in traditional American buildings. The work will be undertaken by Jack Sobon, of Windsor, Massachusetts, Ed Levin of Henover, New Hampshire, and Jan Lewandoski of Greensboro Bend, Vermont. Although the grant is small for the mission, under $20,000, it is a hopeful beginning of support for a broad study of early vernacular architecture and the publishing of information that is long overdue. The work will appear next year as a series of monographs in the Guild's quarterly journal Timber Framing.

(*) HVVA Newsletter Sept. 2002 Vo/4 No 8
(**) Timber Framing June 1998 No 48.
(***) Timber Framing June 1999 No 52

Peter Sinclair, Editor
Spillway Farm


The drawings of the Van Nostrand/Starkins House on page 3. of the last HVVA Newsletter Vol. 4 No.9, that was mailed is by John Collins done in 1976 and not by J. Stevens. It represents the house at the end of the 18th century not 1680. The house is owned by the Roslyn Landmark Society and is operated as a house museum open to the public May through October. An admission fee is charged. Thanks to Mary Ann Brandl for arranging things in Roslyn.

Work parties scheduled for every Wednesday have been active at the Neher farm in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, NY, removing layers of rugs and wall paper, improving drainage, carting away junk and documenting artifacts. Crawford and Stems, an architectural firm from Schenectady, have been contracted to do the Historic Structures Report on the house and on October 23 a group met with Ted Bartlette of Casanovia, who is also working on the Jean Hasbrouck house in New Paltz, will be doing the report. On this preliminary inspection with Ted the building was carefully evaluated room by room and some 20lh century layers removed which revealed changes that had been made and gave a better idea of the buildings original condition with a bake oven and an enclosed stairway. Alvin Sheffer and I have been taking measurements for a set of drawings that is underway. The frame of the present house is being dated at circa 1800, but Bob Hedges discovered an interesting mistake on a timber that indicated a bull nose auger was being used to drill holes. This is a tool generally thought replaced after 1790 with the introduction of the lead-screw auger.

This early 3-bay Dutch barn with a major/minor rafter system has been given by the Solite Corporation, on whose factory site it is located, to the Saugerties Historical Society, Ulster County, New York. Randy Nash of Casanova, New York, has offered his service to help in dismantling and moving it to the 1737 Kierstead stone house in the Village of Saugerties. This will be a 3-week process hopefully in April 2003.

$500 GIFT
Paul Spencer of Ancramdale, Columbia County, New York has given HVV A a $500 donation and a note saying "HVV A is one of the worthiest causes I know and yet I never hear you ask for more than $10 a year. Anyway, thanks for all the good work you do."

Thanks Paul, it will go to keeping the HVVA Newsletter printed and mailed. Paying membership has grown slowly to about 225. About 250 newsletters are mailed, some in exchange for other newsletters. The $10 membership just about covers our costs, so we are dependent upon but not addicted to occasional kind deductible donations like yours.

The promised review of the new book, Dutch Colonial Homes in America, published by Rizzoli must wait until the next issue when I have time to get through it and to it. I have been enjoying the book and have heard only good things about it from others, so do not hesitate if you are looking for a Christmas gift in the $50 range for a loved one.

From the Editor:

The Madden house in Stony Hollow, Town of Kingston, Ulster County, was almost destroyed by arson on the night of Sunday, November 10. This is a property owned by the county three miles from my home with a mid 19th century house that I have been restoring. The quick response of volunteer firemen from Ulster Hose, and the Hurley and West Hurley fire companies saved it.

The fire is under investigation by the county but results of their search will not be available for several weeks. It was set with gasoline and the fire burned through a portion of the house wall and destroyed two pairs of rafters and two pans of the new standing seam roof. The damage was minimal and the repairs can eventually be useful for the interpretation of the building's construction.

My first thought on hearing of the fire was that someone was mad at what we were doing but after visiting the site I was not so sure that it wasn't a random act. Two days later it was reported that a "Molotov cocktail" was thrown at night against the wall of an elementary school in the City of Kingston. It struck the building just bellow a window and did little damage.

Arson is not new to the Madden house. In the early 1980s before I began putting tarps on the roof, there was an attempt to bum it down using a highway flare tied to an internal stud. The charred wood is still visible. Evidently the flare was a dud but it led to the arsonists, two young volunteer firemen looking for action. The abandoned Madden house with its leaking roof and floors covered with broken glass, layers of rotting paper and fabrics looked to them like a good place to practice.

Arson is a constant problem for historic sites that have no resident caretaker and especially when they are isolated and appear abandoned. On HVVA's recent trip to the Delaware Water Gap National Park we were told that in the 30 years of their stewardship of the area they have lost 125 historic buildings to arson. and this is why in the present historic properties and agricultural land program of the Park Service, they have a listing of 20 to 30 properties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey within the park available with inexpensive leases for people willing to invest in and maintain the sites. Two have already been leased for organic fanning. If you are interested contact: Ken Sandri, NPS, (570) 588-5691.

Peter Sinclair, Editor
Spillway Farm, West Hurley

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