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HVVA Newsletters


Wednesday, July 12, 2002 with Todd and Alvin we met at the Weaver house (Dut-Rhi-17) (*) in Rock City, Dutchess County with Fletcher Blanchard and three women from Syracuse. They were on a genealogical trip through Dutchess County looking for ancestors Fletcher was especially interested in the Weaver family one of whom later moved to Colonie in Albany County, where he built a Dutch barn that was recently taken down. Todd and Alvin can recall the Dutch barn that went with the Weaver house in Rock City. It fell to neglect some years ago. Todd says that barns are oriented to the sun in Dutchess County.

The Weaver house is one of the best survivals of Hudson Valley vernacular architecture. It is actually a 4-bay one-room stone addition to a seven-bay wood frame house that is now gone. Especially important in the house is the loft with a brick smoke hood. One of fewer than ten examples that have survived of this feature common to Hudson Valley houses before 1760. The loft has one partitioned side room of unaltered 18th century construction. Despite its rarity and its architectural importance it was hard to lure the genealogists into its low dark damp interior with crumbling walls, weak floors, smelling of raccoons and rotting wood. Few ventured the tight twisting enclosed stairs to the dusty open loft to duck collar ties and view the fragile brick hood with its dangerous wide-open crack in a room that was last white-washed 100 years ago.
(*) see HVVA Newsletter December 2000.

Friday, July 14 Nine people attended a tour of historic sites in Bergen County, New Jersey, organized by Robert Cohen. We met at the Wortendyke Dutch barn Museum in Park Ridge that has been owned by the county since 1997 and is being used as a public museum to interpret the agricultural history of the area. Bob is the curator (*).

In the 1940s and 1950s Bergen County was still an active community of small farms that served the nearby city markets. After construction of the George Washington Bridge in 1931 and the exodus of Manhattan by the middle class, Bergen County became one of the most densely populated and developed suburban areas in America.

Some of us had visited the barn years ago. John Stevens had measured and drawn it for his book on Hudson Valley Dutch Architecture that is now with an editor and planned for publication soon. The Wortendyke barn has undergone two major restorations. A new roof is presently being planned to replace the 20-year old sawn wood shingle roof. A display of tools, models and historic photographs on the threshing floor gives a quick overview of local farming. The side aisles have dirt floors and the horse stalls are interpreted with partitions, feed boxes and no stake mangers.

Evidence in the columns of the original manger is confusing and some of it is covered by the present construction. Two re used circa 4" x 5" studs in the 6 1/2 foot side walls, have diagonal one inch holes drilled through and spaced about 5" apart. They may be parts of the original stake manger. There may also be a regional design we are less aware of.

Greg Huber, who lived in Bergen County until recently, has written and spoken about the similarities in the early framing traditions of Bergen County and Ulster County and in particular the major-minor rafter system. There are aspects of the Wortendyke barn that are reminiscent of the major-minor rafter barns of Ulster and Dutchess Counties. The use of collar ties on alternate pairs of major rafters that join to the purlins rather than extend over them to the wall plates. In Holland this rafter system is associated with thatch. It is known from photographs that thatching continued to be used in Bergen County on a few barns and barracks up to the 20th century.

Bergen County and northern New Jersey developed a very distinct regional style of New World Dutch architecture during the 18th century. In comparison with the more conservative buildings of Ulster County and much of the Mid-Hudson area, the houses of northern New Jersey tend to be more decoratively refined and the barns that have survived are often smaller. According to Huber, all but one of the New Jersey Dutch barns that survive lack evidence of pentice roofs over the wagon doors.

A recent book, The Architecture of Bergen County. New Jersey, The Colonial Period to the Twentieth Century, by T. Robins Brown and Schuyler Warmflash, dedicated to Claire K. Tholl, Rutgers University Press, 2001, states that there are only six surviving Dutch barns in Bergen County. Huber writes that he knows of 25 (*). The Brown book does not have Huber nor John Fitchen in its bibliography and admittedly does not have a good understanding of timber framing (see page 22 and 26 and illustration page 28). Despite its shortcomings and the fact that the colonial period is only 35 pages of the 213-page total, the book is a good blending of history and architecture and the only such publication on the subject with detailed information on the origins of pioneer families. It is well written and contains many insights connecting local history, culture and vernacular architecture as well as the history of historic preservation in Bergen County.

In writing of the derivation of the sweeping overhang that is characteristic of many Bergen County Dutch houses, Brown quotes Allen G. Noble's suggestion that it is derived from French architecture and Brown believes this might be so because a number of the pioneer families were French Huguenot. Other people have suggested that this feature is a New World development which began perhaps two generations after the pioneers arrival when integration, inter marriage and time had separated them from European vernacular models.(*)

The original Wortendyke farm was of 460 acres and at the time of the Revolution had five slaves. Its red sandstone house is now a private residence across Paskack Road from the barn. It has been dated circa 1750. Various dates have been estimated for the barn. I was in agreement with Bob Cohen that it could be pre-Revolutionary. John Stevens thought that despite some of its conservative features it was circa 1800. It has the lowest side-walls of any New World Dutch barn known, 6 1/2 feet. Bob said he will include dendro-dating in the budget for the upcoming roof repair. We look forward to its conclusion.

We next drove a few miles south to Historic New Bridge Landing at River Edge. This 18 acre out-door-museum site was created by the New Jersey State Legislature in 1995 to develop a first-rate museum village on the Hackensack River like "Williamsburg in Virginia or Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts," a place to present living history, historic reenactments and environmental information, "the lessons of history and nature." It is an ongoing project that has involved the efforts of many private organizations and the State's Parks Department. One of the important private groups is the Blauvelt-Demerast Foundation that has been responsible for preserving and interpreting the two Dutch colonial stone houses we would visit.

The Zabriski/Steuben house was begun in 1713 at the site of a bridge over the Hackensack River a tidal river with 4 to 5-feet of water level change at New Bridge, enough to power a nearby tidal mill. The side entrance to the center hall house was oriented to face the river and built of a dressed red sandstone that was popular throughout northern New Jersey in colonial times and a sign of pride and success. Later in the mid-18th century the Steuben house was extended and the roof changed from a simple gable to a gambrel with a pitched overhang, a decorative style that became popular in many parts of the Hudson Valley after 1760.

John Stevens recalled talking with the previous curator, Kevin Wright, who thought that the original Steuben house might have been thatched because he found no nail holes for shingle lath in the back ratters that had been saved in their original condition when the gambrel roof framing was built over them. He speculated that the thatch lath might have been tied to the ratters. The Steuben house is filled with early furniture, original door and window frames and paneling. There is an impressive tall jambed fireplace in the hall/kitchen and an early rungless-banister on the stairs.

We next visited the 18th century Demarest house that was moved from New Milford in 1955 to its present museum site at a cost of one-million dollars by the Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation. The stones i were numbered and all components were restored and replaced' in their original position in the rebuilt house.

The Demarest House has a two-room two-door plan that was century. Its back wall is constructed of wood frame and Bob Demarest came on the tour with his wife Shirley from Pennsylvania and both are natives of the Bergen County area, recalls the house years ago before it was moved. He learned from HABS (Historic American Building Survey) drawings that there was post hole evidence in the ground indicating the back wall was originally a kind of palisade reminiscent of French log construction and consistent with the Demerast family that were French Huguenot. This wall could have been from an original log house. The left room has a jam bed fireplace with Georgian elements in its mantle. The right room has two closely spaced trimmer beams on the end wall beam that form a square opening like a miniature jambless hood opening. This may have accommodated a brick chimney for a ventilating stove.

(*) The Wortendyke Barn: An Example of Bergen County. New Jersey, Dutch Agricultural History, by Robert L. Cohen, de Halve Maen, Spring 1999.
The Wortendyke Barn Museum, by Robert L Cohen, Dutch Barn Preservation Society Newsletter Spring 1999.
(**) The New World Dutch Barn, by John Fitchen, 1968; Second Edition, edited by Gregory D. Huber, Syracuse University Press, 2001, (see pages xxxiv and 204)

Sunday, May 19 with Paul Spencer and Mike Barberi we visited the Adriance farm (Dut-Cli-1) in Clinton on the Krum Elbow Creek and were given a tour by Warren Adriance who keeps sheep and a herd of red highland cattle, This large hill farm has been in the family many generations and has maintained a number of early features and farm artifacts in the barns. Warren recalls farming here in the early 20th century when his grandmother took the milk to the creamery in a horse powered wagon. The Dutch barn has a small scribe-rule frame with an added aisle. It was built, I would guess, 1790-1810.

The Adriance barns received a NY State barn repair grant and work has been underway since December by a restoration carpenter from Poughkeepsie. He has been working alone, Warren said, rebuilding dry-wall foundations and replacing parts of sills and plates with white oak and siding with hemlock. Warren has gathered a few small hardwood trees from the woods to replace some of the long wall studs that were simply poles flattened on one side. A lot of care and thought is going into the repair of the Adriance barns.

We also visited the Pells/Reitano farm (Dut-Rhi-4) in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County. The property has a two-room center hall frame house, a 5-bay Dutch barn and a 10-bay outbuilding. The house seems to be a late 18th century example. The beams in the 4-bay room are planed while in the 3-bay room are hewn indicating a kitchen and a parlor. There are some original doors with distinct but traditional hardware.

The Dutch barn is a drive-through with a lowered side-aisle. It has a square-rule white oak frame of perhaps 1830. It is one of four barns in Rhinebeck with a unique set of protruding pegs near the tops of the columns above the raising holes. Bob Hedges and I did a study of them some years ago for a TTRAG conference but we could never figure out what these pegs were used for. They did seem to indicate that the four barns were built by the same carpenters.

Of special interest in the barn is a working horse powered hay press (*). It is a shop-built model with no maker's mark. The press is about 11-feet high and attached to skids. A "bull wheel" is attached by chain to the press. This windlass was the devise that powered the press. I had never seen one before. Windlasses of this kind can also be used in raising and moving barns.

From the Editor: Trumpbour's Corners Farm Museum in The Town of Saugerties, Ulster County, has received a Charter from the New York State Department of Education and preparations have begun for a festival there on the week end of November 9 & 10, 2002, to celebrate its founding and to raise funds for its operation.

The 67-acre site is located at 2072 Old King's Highway a few miles north of the Katsbaan Church in the Town of Saugerties close to the Greene County line From its rolling fields can be seen a panorama of the Catskill Mountains that rise to the west, High Peek and North Mountain, Wolven's Cove and a place near a falls, some say, where Rip Van Winkle slept.

The Trumpbour Farm Museum is the dream of Bill and Eliner Trumpbour. Its mission is to collect, own, hold, maintain, and make available historical objects and artifacts, to arrange displays, to interpret the regions 1710 Palatine German immigration, to maintain a research library and archives, to promote historical research, issue publications and organize historical and cultural activities and events.

The 18th century Trumpbour stone house will display furniture and objects from the family and Saugerties area. The November Festival will include demonstrations of the traditional crafts including spinning and weaving, timber frame carpentry, basket making and blacksmithing. There will be activities for children and adults. There will be music, food and fun.

The HVVA Newsletter will keep you informed of the Trumpbour Farm Festival. If you have ideas or wish to participate contact Eliner Trumpbour at (845) 246-8684, or me, Peter Sinclair (845) 338-0257. For background on the Trumpbour house and farm see HVV A Newsletters Vol. 2, No. 6, page 6 and Vol. 2, No. 4., pages 5 & 6.

The committee to preserve the Neher/Elseffer Homestead in Rhinebeck had its first gathering at the 3-acre site to clear brush and vines and to stabilize the buildings. About 9 people showed up. Future work parties are scheduled for two Wednesdays, July 17 and 31. There is also a web site by Nancy Kelly, Rhinebeck Historian, with photographs and historic background. (http:///www.geocities.cowpalatinefarmst) Note: this address does not seem to work. (ajb webmaster)

Haio Zimmermann's European information and inquiry in the previous HVVA Newsletter about the orientation, "sunwise", of houses has raised a lot of interest. It does seem that many early farmhouses in the Hudson Valley are oriented southeast. The recent book on Bergen County architecture (Brown/Warm flash) states, "Like other farmhouses of the period, they were usually oriented south or south-east to take advantage of heat from the sun. Consequently, they often stood at right angles to north-south roads."

The question raises some interesting questions such as if and when did this orientation change in the New World? Could houses have two orientations such as river-and-sunwise? The best answers will be statistical and based on the date and location of many examples. It will not be an easy statistics to create because it will be based on interpretation of existing sites. If there is one thing that is characteristic of Hudson Valley vernacular houses it is their additions and changes that are often difficult to understand., as well as the frequent changes in roads. Often early houses were built close to the road which later was re-routed leaving the house set back.

Haio took an interest in the Hudson Valley Sith and Mathook illustrated in the last Newsletter and I was able to send him a copy of Hog Plow and Sith, by Peter H. Cousins, Henry Ford Museum,1973. He sent some interesting information in an e-mail, "I was delighted to meet an old acquaintance in your newsletter, the sith and mathook. It reminds me how much I have still to publish. In Flogeln I found a hoard (Haio is an archaeologist) with these two implements, the iron parts as well as the mower's anvil and hammer, all dating to about 100 AD. Thus what is written about these two implements being invented during high or late medieval times in Flanders (they are sometimes called Flemish Scythes) is wrong. They are much older. When I publish the information I will argue that the sith and mathook were widespread shortly after the birth of Christ."

You will see from the address labels that HVVA has advanced the technology of its mailing. The month and year listed at the lower right is your last payment. We continue to mail about 250 newsletters each issue but our bank account has fallen to $160 so please renew your membership and we do accept contributions.

The bus trip to Bethpage Village on Long Island being done in conjunction with the Dutch Barn Preservation Society is still being planned for Saturday, September 28. Contact Ned Pratt (518) 271-6647 if you want to go. We need about 30 people to charter the bus. Admission to the out door museum is $4.

Money ($14,000) has come through from the NY State Barn Repair grant to work on the Snyder barns in Saugerties. Bob Hedges is in charge of the project. Ken Snyder has begun to cut trees in his woodlot and will bring in a band-saw mill to cut the repair timbers. Things have slowed down as Ken Snyder, like Bill Trumpbour are in their fields making hay.

My truck is back from the transmission shop but the seven 24" rolls of 28 gauge tern for the raised seam roof on my neighbor, the Madden House in Stony Hollow, have not arrived at the warehouse in Albany. It costs just under $100 per square (100 feet). It is a little out of fashion because it is not coated but eventually needs paint. The circa 1850 tern I removed seems to have a lead coating but was painted over the years. John Kaufman has offered the 8-foot brake in his barn for bending the pans. Anyone interested in learning, for free, the traditional craft of raised-seam metal-roof construction contact me.

Peter Sinclair, Editor
Spillway Farm

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