NEWSLETTER, JUNE 2004
FROM THE JOURNAL
Tuesday, May 4 with Zoe Bissell to see a complex of barns on a farm in Rosendale, Ulster County, ___/Evans (Uls-Ros-4). Owned for four years by Helmsley Evans. It is near the dead end of Burr Crossing Road. Rondout Woodworking of Saugerties is doing restoration of the barns.
This is the first Dutch barn known in the Town of Rosendale. The town was originally part of the town of Hurley until the Delaware and Hudson Canal was put through in about 1825. Rosendale is associated with the canal and with the cement industry rather than farming but wherever there was usable land a farmer would find it no matter how remote.
Many of these back woods farms were little more than subsistence, but judging by its barns and fields, this farm was modestly prosperous. There was certainly a good market for farm products in the busy canal town only a mountain-mile away down a twisted narrow road.
Sunday, May 8 with Maggie MacDowell we measured the Evans barns. It is thought that the Dutch aisle barn was moved to the site. It may have had an additional bay that would have given it a more typical floor plan, slightly wider than long. The two 2-bay ‘straw mow’ additions are typical in their placement, extending the side aisle and creating a sunwise barn yard. The back of the building complex faces the northeast and flanks the narrow dirt road with an 89-foot continuous wall of weather boards.
The timber frames of the Dutch barn and its additions seem contemporary. They are scribe rule with extended anchorbeam tenons in the aisle barn. My guess is circa 1780. The house is Victorian but is said to have an early cellar. The roof of the barn was raised sometime in the 19th century and the side walls were rebuilt higher. The present rafters butt at the peak indicating a date of reconstruction after 1830.
Saturday, May 15 with Alvin Sheffer we met with Bob Hallock, President of the Greene County Historical Society, his wife Anne, Scott Padeni, an archaeologist with an underwater specialty, and Harvey Durham, to examine the wreck of an eighteenth century Dutch barn that is quickly becoming a pile of rotting timbers and tin. It is one of only three Dutch barns that have survived in Greene County. It is located in the Town of Coxsackie, an area near the Hudson River that is undergoing industrial development and offers an opportunity to examine the bones of this early artifact and save some of its parts for a museum setting.
Bob Hallock believes the barn was not original to the site but probably moved from a nearby Van Bergen farm that he points to on a hill across a brook where there is a collection of farm buildings, a neighboring farm where a small stone house was demolished in the 1970’s.
Alvin Sheffer felt that because it does not face north it indicates that the barn was relocated. We will call it The Mid 18th Century Van Bergen? 3-bay Scribe Rule Dutch Barn. We took what measurements we could at this time and made some speculations (1.).
Some of the barn’s unusual features include the heavy short braces on the internal anchorbeams. They are somewhat like the corbels found in Dutch frame houses built before circa 1730 and like the heavy curved braces on the Garret Van Bergen barn, circa 1729, that rotted away in the 1970’s and 1980’s (2.). This indicates a possible early date for the H-frames of the Van Bergen? barn. There is evidence on some columns of later modifications, and a pine wall post with square-rule joining makes me think the side walls were replaced and heightened, or the aisles widened. Sections of timbers should be saved for an eventual dendro date that could establish its age.
The New World Dutch barns that have survived or been recorded, from Staten Island to the Mohawk Valley, show a building with a plan and structure that are basically the same wherever you find it, unlike in Holland where barn types and timber framing show strong regional differences. Although the regional differences of the Dutch barn in America are slight, not well studied, and the evidence is scarce, it may eventually be possible to map regional boundaries and understand the differences more clearly. They should reflect their geography and history.
An interesting comparison can be made between the columns of the Van Bergen? barn in Greene County and the Evans barn in Ulster County. Part of their differences can be attributed to their different ages, showing development away from Medieval framing traditions toward a more American style of framing. Some of their differences, like the shape of the extended tenon on the anchorbeam, may be regional.
Especially interesting is the horse manger evidence in the two barns. The 2-inch grooves in the columns of the Evans barn are frequently found in Ulster County barns such as the circa 1750 Jansen Dutch barn in Shawangunk (3.). They held a 2-inch plank that formed the bottom of the horse manger’s feed box. The evidence in the Van Bergen barn indicates a similar type of manger but a different construction.
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