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HVVA Newsletters


Sunday, February 10 with Conrad Fingado we visited the Van Wickle stone house in Hawthorn, Passaic County, New Jersey. We could not find it in the Bailey book (*). It is for sale for a lot of money and advertised as a Dutch Colonial red sandstone house with "pumpkin pine floors" (a popular real estate term) and a gambrel roof, circa 1742. Conrad believes this dates the small stone addition that was converted, in the 1920s restoration of the house, into a two-car garage.

On the large section of the house there is a date "JVW 1811" cut in a coin stone. The date is consistent with the high Federal style of the doorway that, along with the pairs of shuttered windows on either side, display its Georgian center-hall plan. The two large end-wall fireplaces have elaborately carved Federal mantels, one slightly more elaborate than the other, perhaps defining hall and parlor. The small addition probably served as a kitchen when the new house was built.

The 1920s Dutch Revival restoration shows an understanding of the genre and a desire to preserve the historic look of the house, especially from the street side. There was an attempt to "improve" the inside of the house with very nice Federal high-style glazed interior doors, separating the outside-halls from the inside-hall, but the raising of the ceiling height up stairs, the long back dormer, the back entrance and the two car garage door, recently converted to an over-head roll-up, all speak of a prosperous, early-20th century man's inability to live comfortably in the house of an equally or even more prosperous man of the early 19th century, without making changes for the living style of his new industrial age. It is an attractive country house and would need few changes to satisfy a small family of the early 21 st century who would probably want to build a 6- or 8-foot high protective fence around its small backyard in this crowded suburban community, but the Town code limits them to 4 feet.

(*) Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York, by Rosalie Fellows Bailey with introduction by Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.

Wednesday, February 6, 2002 with Brian Kennedy and the new owners, we toured the Frederick Deyo house known as Thornwood (Uls-NP-13) in New Paltz. Brian will be working on the house this spring.

The house consists of four parts. Oral tradition says that it was begun in the 1740s and that the wood frame section is the earliest. Our examination indicated that the 4-bay stone section at the other end is the original house. There is clear evidence in the hood beam that it had a jambless fireplace.

Soon after the original construction a second 4-bay stone room was added. Some years later the ceiling beams of this room were raised and an English style jambed fireplace replaced the Dutch model. The internal beams of this room were hewn to a common depth for a plaster ceiling These changes reflect the families growing prosperity. It seems that this room also had a jambless fireplace, dating its original construction before about 1760.

From rose-headed nails and other evidence in the frame section, it seems that it was built in the late 18th century. It has much of its original beaded weatherboard siding. Its internal beams were probably exposed originally and later hewn to a common deptH for a plaster ceiling. There are a number of examples of early doors, window frames and hardware throughout the house that tell a story of many changes. Measured drawings and a closer examination will eventually help with a clearer understanding of the house.

Saturday, February 23,2002 The first HVVA business meeting was held at the Marbletown Firehouse. About ten members attended. A little business was conducted. It was a fruitful gathering with future tours proposed and discussed. One was a fall tour of Bethpage Village on Long Island. A rented bus was suggested. A great deal of information was exchanged and a number of architectural artifacts, including some impressive colonial iron work, was displayed.

Bob and Shirley Demarest from Tannersville, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River spoke about Millbrook Village where they work as volunteers and together we spoke of a visit there soon. Millbrook is a privately run historic site on Federal land. They are interested in traditional crafts. Shirley weaves oak splint baskets and the group is presently reconstructing an early 19th century mill. The Minnisink area in the Upper Delaware River Valley has many family and cultural connections with the Hudson Valley and in particular the Esopus Valley of Ulster County. Millbrook Village in Pennsylvania, is actually at the other end of the 100-mile "Old Mine Road." This important historic route, connecting the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, passes a few feet from the present Marbletown Firehouse in Ulster County, NY, a reconverted stone school house across the Old Mine Road from George Van Sickle's frame house(*), the place where we were meeting.

Much of present route 209, from Kingston to Port Jervis and south, follows the Old Mine Road and passes a number of early houses, villages and barns. There are also a number of nicely preserved parts to the side of the present highway that give a sense of how these valleys were settled and how the farms and villages developed after the European invasion of the late 17th century. The Marbletown section is especially interesting (**).

(*) George Van Sickle is the present Marbletown fire chief, with a lifelong interest in history and prehistory. He is an original member of HVVA and was the host of the meeting.
(**) HVVA Newsletter, August 1999, Vol 1, No 5, page 7. & Feb-Mar 2001, Vol 3, No 2

Saturday, February 16, 2002 with Todd Scheff we visited the Greg Farm, in Red Hook and inspected the frame house that Norman Greg has recently moved into with his family and has begun to stabilize, being careful to preserve original material. The Pitcher/Greg (Dut-RH-18) house is a late 18th century two-room center-hall house with a cellar kitchen. It was the house of a tenant farmer and like a number of these it saw little improvement or change over the years. It contains good evidence of its original condition and a number of well preserved features. The Greg family bought the farm in 1942 and continue to operate it with diversified crops and activities.

Norman thinks that the Pitcher house was built in two sections, a one-room house enlarge soon after by adding the center-hall and the other room. We could find no evidence of that. The cellar of the Pitcher house is especially interesting. There is a great deal of original condition in the enclosed stairway and pantry that separate the kitchen from the root cellar. Rose-headed nails were used in the carpentry. Interior partition walls, both in the cellar and main floor, have mud and straw infill. The fireplace and side oven in the cellar kitchen have been removed but enough evidence remains that its original form is not hard to imagine.

The upper drawing shows the sill plates and cellar beams resting on the stone foundation. The beams in the Kitchen are finished with a chamfer and in the root cellar left rough. The short longitudinal beams are sawn. This pattern is repeated in the beams on the main floor above.

The lower drawing shows the cellar at waist level. The root cellar and kitchen are separated by a pantry and an enclosed stairway to the main floor. There are four doors in this partition The interior walls with dots indicate mud and straw infill. All off this was designed to prevent air flow and to insulate the root cellar from the heat of the kitchen.

Monday, February 18, 2002 with Bob Hedges we measured the Reverend Vedder 3-bay square-rule side-entrance tri-level barn on County Route 7, Galitan, Columbia County (Col-Gal-4). From the exterior the barn looks in stable condition but inside we discovered that one queen posts has fallen and a rotten spot on the tie beam makes this whole end-wall in danger of collapse. The barn seems to have been designed for hay storage, cows, horses and perhaps pigs or sheep, We estimate it was built in the mid 19th century. The frame is relatively light, with a mixture of wood types and with wane on the timbers. The sawn braces are not pinned. The present 19-pairs of sawn rafters are two-part, one below and the other above the purlin.

They butt at the peak. There is evidence of cut nails in the original barn that was vertically sided. The present 9-inch double-cut novelty siding is nailed with 20th century round nails. The unique cast iron strap hinges on the two part wagon doors imitate 18th century Dutch pad hinges.

The cast iron State Historic Marker at the roadside is dated 1938 and reads:

Rev. Herman Vedder.
In family since May 1, 1804.
Life Lease from John Livingston
"Shall Minister & Preach Gospel in Greenbush Church


Sunday, February 24, 2002 With Bob Hedges and John Coppell to visit Randy Nash in Casanovla, Madison County, central NY. We went primarily to talk, with him about constructing raised-seam metal roofs and how the tools are used. I had thought of using a 10 foot brake in a shop for the initial bending of the panels for the roof of the Madden house in Stony Hollow but Randy suggested doing all the bending on the roof with hand tools, He likes the less mechanical look and for the Madden house it would be more historically accurate. The Madden house raised-seam metal roof of 1850 lasted 100-years. It was made of a lead coated iron but a zinc coated iron available from Canada, may do just as well and is guaranteed for 200 years, it is said.

Randy and his family presently live in the 3-bay Ripking Dutch barn (Fitchen #1, plate 11) (Dut-EF-5) that he took down in East Fishkill in 1985,(*) When he found it, the building was in poor shape and the loose hay in the loft had been there unused for 35 years. He moved, repaired and put the barn back up in Casanovia in1990. Its conversion to an office/shop/home has been an ongoing project ever since. The 44-foot wide by 36-foot deep barn has classic early lines with low 9 1/2 foot high side-walls, Randy and his brother did the job with care and a large tractor fork-lift. He has taken down and erected about fifty barns including the most recent English threshing barn he restored at the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, Otsego County, NY. Randy is also a founding and active member of TTRAG. (see coming events on back page).

For the past two-years Randy Nash has retired from carpentry and has been working with the $4,000,000 NYS Barn Repair Grant Program. He has visited and advised all of the 113 New York barns awarded grants. in the year 2000. To date, because of the lack of funding, only ten of these repair projects have been completed and thirteen more begun. The nearly 5,000 original applications and the 1,300 applications for the year 2001 have been saved. These files include photographs, descriptions and measurements of about 6,300 barns. They are sorted by district and may be of value in future studies of New York State barns.

Randy recently attended a national barn coalition meeting in Chicago (NBA) and gave us copies of a bill that is being included with the US Senate Farm Bill (section 642). It was introduced by Senator Jeffords. The bill will authorize $25,000,000 a year for five years, beginning in 2002. The program reads as follows:

PROGRAM. The Secretary shall establish an historic barn preservation program to assist States in developing a listing of historic barns; to collect and disseminate information on historic barns; to foster educational programs relating to the history, construction techniques, rehabilitation, and contribution to society of historic barns; and to sponsor and conduct research on the history of barns; and best practices to protect and rehabilitate historic barns from the effects of decay, fire, arson, and natural disasters.

In the Bill, "eligible projects" include repair and preservation of historic barns as well as identification, documentation and study. "Eligible applicants" are A. a State Department of agriculture (or designee), B. a national of State nonprofit organization that is exempt from tax under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and has experience or expertise, as determined by the Secretary, in. the identification, evaluation, rehabilitation, preservation, or protection of historic barns; and C. a State historic preservation office.

In the Bill, "eligible projects" include repair and preservation of historic barns as well as identification, documentation and study. "Eligible applicants" are A. a State Department of agriculture (or designee), B. a national of State nonprofit organization that is exempt from tax under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and has experience or expertise, as determined by the Secretary, in the identification, evaluation, rehabilitation, preservation, or protection of historic barns; and C. a State historic preserVation office.

The National Barn Alliance \(NBA) urges people and organizations to contact members of the House Agricultural Committee and convey their support to the House Agricultural Committee Leadership: Larry Combest (TX), Charles Stenholm (TX) and John Boehner (MI).

Of the 27 Republican and 24 Democrat members of the House Agriculture Committee none are from NY or NJ

Randy Nash will be speaking at The Kierstead House in Saugerties, NY, Thursday, March 28, at 7PM. His talk will concern the moving of barns, how to do it safely, preserve the historic fabric, and manage on a tight budget. The Saugerties Historical Society who maintain the 1727 Kierstead stone house have been given an early Dutch barn by a local industry, "Solite," and plan to move it from its present industrial setting to a site behind the house.

(*) Randy refers to the removable-center-pole (mittelmans) that holds the wagon doors shut on a Dutch barn, as the "door standard." Perhaps it should be added to the glossary. Fitchen wrote of the Ripking barn when he visited it in 1962, "Wagon entrance jambs (door posts) notched at mid-height to receive bar of timber to secure doors shut from inside." He is describing what might be called a horizontal-door-standard. Greg Huber first visited the barn in 1977 and describes it as "deteriorating to some degree." In the 2001 second edition of Fitchen's New World Dutch Barn, he writes that the Ripking barn was saved by a "barn renovator" in 1985 and moved to a site southeast of Syracuse. He dates it, circa 1790.

From the Saugerties Grist Mill

Tuesday, February 12 Seven people attended the third meeting of the Informal Terwilliger mill committee. Tom Elmore reported on his search of the National Archives for information of the WPA era. He found a request for money to fix a mill in Saugerties. He could not find if it was approved.

Mark Knaust reported on his inquiry of the DEC. The stream is designated class C, meaning there are no special permits necessary to work on the bed.

Alex Wade talked about his consultation with the Village grant writer. The present grants available are difficult to apply because the building will not be historic, but a reconstruction. Ken Barricklo presented a case for retrofitting the present 1970s building rather than taking it down. His case was based on cost but Karlyn Elia later presented an equally impelling reason, which is, the feelings of local people who were involved with the1970s project.

Karlyn talked with a number of these people and found that there was a great deal of confusion and bad feeling about what had happened 30-years ago in this dark hole of Saugerties history. There is a Bicentennial quilt, she discovered, preserved in the vault in the Clerk's office, sewn by women of the Village that was meant to hang in the new 1970s mill and the story of a horse that hung itself in the old mill in 1932 when part of the floor gave way.

Karlyn talked with Elten Johnston of the Van Winckle Camp Ground. Elten was born in 1918 and can recall the old Terwilliger mill. It was he who donated the trees that built the new mill. Karlyn also had a number of interesting statistics for Saugerties such as:

1824-- 11 grist mills --10 saw mills --3 fulling mills
1836-- 5 grist mills --5 saw mills --2 fulling mills

Jim Kricker could find no plans for the 1970s mill. The four tall concrete peers between the highway bridge and the mill were originally to support a walkway with the water flume from the dam supported bellow it on the side of the columns. Jim said he would examine the site again and rough estimate a retrofit. Bob Yerick said he would have the village maintenance crew put blue tarps on the roof.

From the Editor:

One of the most interesting developments regarding the study and preservation of vernacular architecture that the editor has learned of is the recent use of dendrochronology to date timbers in historic buildings in the Hudson Valley. On Saturday, February 9, I visited the Tree-Ring Laboratory at the Lamont-Dorty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, Putnam County, New York, with Mike Barberi, of Niew World Restoration, and Paul Spencer, owner of the Dunckel family Dutch barn that he and Mike, with some help of others, moved last summer from the Mohawk Valley in Montgomery County, New York to. the Harlem Valley in Dutchess.(*)

Dendrochronology is the science of dating a sample of wood by measuring and matching its growth pattern, recorded in the size and condition of its annual rings, with those found in other trees and wood samples from the region. These growth patterns are caused by annual fluctuations in the weather and in the growing conditions of the region.

In the Hudson Valley such a record is possible to about 15,000 BC. The study of tree rings is being used world wide as a tool for recovering the histories of ecological change as well as for dating timbers in historic structures.

This science has been used for quite some time in dating historic structures in Europe. It is now in its beginning stages of establishing the data bases necessary for the accurate dating of historic architecture in the Hudson Valley. Dendro-dating will eventually clarify what has to now been largely speculation. There is a great deal of interest in the subject and as better regional data-bases are established it will become easier to date tree rings. Its usefulness in the study of Hudson Valley Vernacular architecture, I believe, will depend on the availability of the science and how the information is transmitted to the interested public.

One of the fIrst Hudson Valley houses that the Tree-Ring Lab has dated is the Wyckoff/Gatretson frame house in Somerset County, New Jersey, (**) undergoing study and preservation by the Meadows Foundation. Its original section was thought to date circa 1709 but was recently dendro-dated to the 1730s. What makes dendrochronology diffIcult is the variability of the data especially between regions with different weather patterns, Some species, like white oak, are easier to study, some like the tropical woods from a climate without distinct seasons are diffIcult to date. Trees from upper elevations display seasonal changes more distinctly than lowland samples were water availability is more consistent.

Eventually the computer helps the lab to process the data, summarizes it and organizes it into a usable form. But in matching the patterns, and determining a date for a sample, the scientist and his experience are the best tool. The science is not without danger of misinterpretation, especially without a good data-base or a high standard for comparison of samples. Another danger in dating buildings is the use of recycled wood.

A 1767 dendro-date by Dr. Andre Robichaud, "a highly respected dendrochronologist," for the two-story pine frame house of Jacob Treitz in Moneton, New Brunswick, Canada, (***) is being contested by Dr. Stephen White, president of the Moneton Heritage Preservation Review Board. White says 1812 or 1813 would be closer to the truth but that the Jacob Treitz house still is, he believes, the oldest in town and is important for interpreting the early history of the area.

Neil Pederson and David Frank who hosted us at the Tree-Ring Lab had taken core samples from timbers of the Dunckel Dutch bam that was built in Montgomery County on the Mohawk River, to compare with a white oak tree-ring data-base obtained from Prospect Mountain on the south end of Lake George, about 50-miles to the northeast. The Prospect Mountain pattern has been dated by the lab. The closest comparison of the two gave a possible 1839 date for the bam. This did not seem likely with its frame being scribe-rule and the nails rose-headed. The lab will not confIrm any date until a larger data-base is available. Paul and Mike left the lab some sections of Oak and Elm timbers from the Dunckel bam and sections from a parts-bam disassembled nearby. They went back to Montgomery County to collect more local wood samples.

A few days later, I attended a tour of three museum houses at the Huguenot Historical Society in New Paltz, Ulster County. Ed Cook and Paul Krusic from the Lamont-Dorty Tree-Ring Lab explained the science and answered many questions from a dozen interested members of the museum staff. Early in the 1970s, Ed Cook did a study of the Shawangunk Mountain range, a limestone ridge running south of the Catskill Mountains. He discovered some small stressed yellow pine (pitch pine) and was able to establish a chronology for the rings. He found one dwarf tree 400 years old.

Ed identified the massive anchorbeams in one of the four rooms of the circa 1694-1712 Jean Hasbrouk house as yellow pine and thought they would be easy to date using the Shawangunk data-base.
(*) see HVVA Newsletter June 2001
(**) see HVVA Newsletter Jan-Feb
(***) see HVVA Newsletter Nov-Dec 2001

Peter Sinclair, editor West Hurley, NY

From Landis Valley

John N. Fugelso of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has sent this photograph of the hay barrack that was recently erected and thatched for the pioneer farm at the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The log house, log barn and hay barrack were often the first farm buildings on a Pennsylvania German homestead. When the large timber frame barns were eventually built there was no longer a need for barracks. In the Pennsylvania German dialect the barrack was called a "shutt-sheier." Perhaps derived from Kappschur (*). Scheuer is a German word for barn. The traditional Pennsylvania thatching on the Landis Valley shutt-sheier gives it a rough authentic look.

(*) Alles unter Dach und Fach, by Andreas Eiynk, Landwirtschaftysverlag I 1987, page 88.

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