NEWSLETTER, August 2002
FROM THE JOURNAL
Saturday, July 20,2002 about fifteen people from HVVA and the Dutch Barn Preservation Society met at the Quitman house in Rhinebeck to tour the Neher Dutch barn and frame house (Dut-Rhi-20) about one mile away (formerly called the Losee farm) and two other nearby sites in Dutchess County with Dutch barns.
Work by the Palatine Farm Committee has begun to clear brush and tall grass and to clean-out and stabilize the buildings. The most immediate concern was the back wall of the frame house. An exterior cement block chimney was removed and a gutter installed that will divert water away from the back wall and stone foundation that are damaged and in need reconstruction.
It can easily be assumed that the back wall is part of a later side aisle addition to the main house but evidence suggests this low timber wall is part of a second frame used in the original construction for which a date is only guessed at (1790-1800). What has survived of this wall has riven lath with mud and straw infill, a technique of insulating frame houses used throughout the 18th and well into the 19th century. The main house has a classic 2 room center hall plan with a modified New World Dutch frame. It has a low restrained look and its construction is light and frugal.
The house has a number of reused parts, probably, from the earlier circa 1747 house for which the cellar remains. Evidence in reused beams and rafters, hardware and parts of doors door frames and a raised panel, are artifacts that will eventually reveal the look and plan of the earlier house. Jim Decker discovered part of a false panel with a shutter hinge in the crawl space. Nancy Kelly, the local historian, has found land deeds indicating that. Palatines Germans had begun farming in Rhinebeck as early as 1714. We know little of the post-in-the-ground and log buildings that the Palatines might have lived in during the first decades after their arrival in 1710. Over time, the small 3-bay Dutch barn has been reduced to its H-bent core without side aisles or any column above the anchorbeam. The purlins and part of one wall plate survive and will help with the reconstruction. A carved "MD 1770" on the first internal anchorbeam seems to date the barn and is consistent with its construction What remains of the H-bents is in fair condition with interesting evidence of built in mangers. It is in need of stabilization and the first stage in its restoration will be to reconstruct the sills and stone foundation for the H-bent core. Bob Hedges has suggested the second stage be the reconstruction of the side walls followed by the reconstruction of the H-bents above the anchorbeams.
We next visited the Mosher 3-bay Dutch barn (Dut-Rhi-11) with an added bay and raised columns two miles away. It is close in measurement and framing style to the Neher barn so that it will be valuable in the reconstruction of the pre-Revolutionary date of construction. Both show evidence of original harr-hung doors on the front end. No large harr-hung doors have yet been found in the Hudson Valley but their structure can be deduced from that of the key-hinge door.
At the back end of the Mosher and Neher barns there seems to have originally been a wall with perhaps a narrow door. The back walls were later opened and wagon doors installed. We sometimes assume that the New World Dutch barn began as a drive-through, what we call true-form, but here are two early examples that did not begin as drive-through Dutch barns.
The last barn visited was the Pells 5-bay Dutch barn and frame house (Dut-Rhi-4) in Rhinebeck. The Pells family was one of the early Dutch families to settle at Kingston in the mid 17th century. The barn is a drive-through with a lowered side aisle. It has a square-rule frame of about 1830. The house is I earlier. What is now the front door, but moved from the cellar, is a classic Dutch/German false panel door with a cam latch, drop-ring handle and an embellished heart shaped striker plate dated 1790. Some of the Dutch hinges have a unique triangular pad.
Later at Lunch, John Stevens suggested that the Bethpage tour be short and that we visit Roslyn to see the mill and the Van Norstrand/Starkins house museum that was begun as a one-room . English frame house in circa 1680 and enlarged in 5 stages (1680, 1740, 1810, 1840, 1875), stages that were deduced after years of studying and restoring this small frame house The Andersens said they would see what they could do about it Only six pre-registrations of the 30 necessary to pay the bus have been received but it is early.
John Stevens submitted some observations and notes on our Rhinebeck tour. The correct spelling is "harr-hung" for the type of door that pivots on an extended "hanging stile" (*). It is the most primitive and widespread method of constructing a door and was often used by Hudson Valley farmers and builders for wagon as the construction of field gates. Horizontal flap doors that pivot on extended hanging stiles do not have a harr or "heal" as I understand the word translates. Harr is not in my dictionaries.
Because the structures of the frames of the harr-hung and key-hinge doors are essentially the same John suggested we examine the surviving doors on the back end of the Neher barn to see if they were reused from the front.
(*) The Development of English Building Construction, by C.F. Innocent, Cambridge University Press 1916. The use of harr hung doors in England dates to the Roman period. In South Yorkshire barns, the doors are secured by a "movable center post" just as was used in Holland and the Hudson Valley.
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