HVVA NEWSLETTER, September 2005
(Click on graphics/photos for larger view)
HVVA Newsletters


Thursday, August 18 went to see the Forseith/Melville c.1870 sawn frame banked basement barn, Cherry Hill (ny/uls/uls/005) 50' wide by 100' long, with two internal silos on Sawkill Road 3/4-miles from Washington Ave.

I had visited the barn last fall when it seemed it was doomed but, working alone for about 3-months full time, with a 50' bucket truck, wench and some owner assistance, Paul Terwilliger has got the back end supported and a metal roof in place. The barn has been saved.

This large barn, 50 by 100-feet was built about 1870 into the side of a hill behind a tall stone retaining wall. It is a landmark in the area and many of those who regularly pass it on the Sawkill road will be happy to see it saved. The timber frame represents the best timber frame carpentry of its time, utilizing long round-sawn, square dimensioned timbers of pine and hemlock.

The design of the 5-bay frame with internal columns supporting purlins is based on the traditional Dutch barn frame, enlarging it by elongating the columns and multiplying the tie beams, braces and struts of a traditional barn and giving it two side entrances. The interior is impressive, very open and the frame seems light for the space it encloses. The barn represents a large and early dairy operation, incorporating the recently introduced use of corn silage. The two large two-story internal silos add to the interest of the interior.

Despite the loss of the road-side wall, the barn preserves a relatively unaltered interior. This large 19 th century dairy operation was apparently planned with some education rather than an outgrowth of local farming tradition, but the barn's frame is based on local models and designed by an experienced carpenter using square-rule, a distinct method of timber framing developed in America in the early 19 th century.

Victor Melville has is looking for a use for the barn. It would make a good public site for the preservation and display of local historic farming equipment, wagons, etc., artifacts from the days of horse power.

Forseith/Melville c.1870 sawn frame banked basement barn, (ny/uls/uls/005) 50' wide by 100' long, with two internal silos Sawkill Road, Town of Ulster, Ulster County, NY


Friday, August 19, Kelly Yacobucci Farquhar, Montgomery County Historian, invited me to a meeting in Fonda of town historians from the County, eight attended. I introduced The Survey and we set a tentative date for a Survey Workshop at Fort Klock on November 11.

Saturday, August 20, Marc B. Fried gave a talk at the Bevier House (Ulster County Historical Society) about his new book Shawangunk Place Names. Subtitled "Indian Dutch and English geographical names of the Shawangunk Mountain region: Their Origin, Interpretation and Historical Evolution," It is a fascinating and detailed scholarly study that has led to new insights both into local place-names and European settlement of the area. It helps correct a lot of earlier interpretations. The Indians did not have names for mountain ranges, and the name Shawangunk, for instance, first appears in connection with a 17 th century land deed for a parcel of river lowland; only later did the settlers bestow the name on the mountain ridge.

Gertrude's Nose, a promontory of Shawangunk quartz conglomerate, well known both to local residents and hikers, was named for Gertrude Bruyn, who was the first to settle along the Shawangunk Kill in the 1680's. In researching her scattered records, Marc has uncovered an intriguing picture of a pioneer woman who was born in 1650 into a somewhat dysfunctional family on a Manhattan pig farm. She outlived three husbands and managed to raise a family, becoming patentee of a 400-acre farm and matriarch of a family that rose to wealth and prominence.

This attractively illustrated, 200-page hard cover book is published by the author, and can be obtained at local book stores or (autographed) by writing to Marc B. Fried, 766 Sand Hill Road, Gardiner, NY 12525. The price is $18.95 plus $1.50 postage (NY residents must add applicable sales tax).

_/Denniger/Mosher 3-bay Dutch Scribe-Rule Barn with Addition. Bent 3., Section A., and Floor-Plan (ny/du/re/0022) Town of Ulster, Ulster Co,, NY

Friday, August 26 We met with Patsy Vogel to visit a site she had arranged to see for the Red Hook Survey. I went with Craig Vogel and Bob Hedges to document the Brittany Hollow Farm on Route 9 at the Red Hook, Rhinebeck town line. We registered it: _/Denniger/Mosher barn complex with 3-bay Dutch scribe-rule barn and frame house (ny/du/re/0022) Albany Post Road, Route 9, coordinates N 41'58.312, W073'53.080; elevation 227-feet

According to the owner of this farm, Darryl Mosher, the Bonesteel Inn, built in 1705, was located somewhere on this property but they have been unable to find its location or foundation.

_/Denniger/Mosher 18 th century 3-bay Dutch Scribe-Rule Barn enlarged (left) with 19 th Century Carriage Barn (right)

The Mosher Dutch barn is very like the Palatine Farmstead Dutch barn in Rhinebeck, (ny/du/rh/0020) that is undergoing restoration. The Farmstead barn is dated 1770, and located a few miles north on the same road. In both examples the carpenters, perhaps the same crew, used cup-marks to number and match the braces. These marks are associated with timber framing both in the Netherlands and in early Mid Hudson Valley examples. The Mosher timber frame is more rough-hewn than the Palatine frame and there are a few differences in their design but the proportions are nearly the same. Both barns began with 3-bays and harr- hung wagon doors on only one gable end, facing the house.

In the 1880's (1891?) a carriage barn was built 3-feet to the side of the Dutch barn, it contains a sophisticated roof truss and rope operated lift but it was built with a parallel roof line. This was not a good idea as it has caused a lot of water damage. In the 20-years that Darryl has owned the farm it has cost him $60,000 for roofs, much of it correcting the barn's bad design, a great sacrifice for a small diversified working farm.

There is an unresolved question whether one of the buildings may have been moved. In the mid 19th century the Dutch barn was raised 6'6" and lengthened one bay to match the length of the carriage barn. 3-part wagon doors with strap hinges were added on the back end. There are now several additions and outbuildings on the farm. A low shed contains reused rafters that may contain parts of the original side-walls of the Dutch barn.

The barn was first visited and documented on a tour organized by Todd Scheff in 2001. This visit has added to a better understanding of its design and corrected some earlier errors.

The two-story frame house that faces the road today was built in 1865. The story-and-a-half extension on the back is earlier and from examining the cellar may contain parts of a small late 18 th century house with jambed fireplace. There is also an attached smokehouse/bake oven. The barns and house are set 25-feet apart. This closeness may be due to the lay of the land.


George M. Cowan Jr.
2779 North 700 East
North Ogden,UT 84414
August 30, 2005

P.O. Box 202
West Hurley, NY 12491


I have recently become acquainted with Ev Rau in Altamont, New York, through his son. His enthusiasm in preserving the Dutch barns sparked my interest as well. I design scenery for use in Microsoft's Flight Simulator and have been working with the Rau family to replicate his farm including all the old farm buildings. In order to understand the Dutch construction, I have been reading all of your newsletters posted on the Internet.

I would now like to expand my project to include many of the properties that you have visited in your newsletters. I use actual plans to duplicate the construction and GPS coordinates plus photographs where possible to texture the buildings making them as realistic as I can.

Flight simulator enthusiasts are quite numerous and, if my project is successful, those from around the world that use our scenery will become familiar with your preservation efforts as well.

Thank you for a great newsletter and efforts to preserve the rural vernacular architecture.


George Cowan

Copyright 2005. Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.