Barn3 Detail 1

The New Custodians: Part 2 of 3

by Cathy and Richard Cooper, Kingston

Continued from Part 1 published October 17th. | Part 3 published October 31st.

Travis’s plan included a complete deconstruction of the existing barn. A review of what we could keep, what we could repair and what we would have to replace. Travis, with chisel and mallet in hand, then hand hew the mortice and tenon joints needed in the new beams, staying true to the building style of the time. His excavation uncovered the animal bay, wagon bay and hay bays. We were soon learning about queen beams, king posts, purlins, mortice and tenon joints, rafters, anchor beams, arcade posts, purlin plates and the history of our land. All the original wood materials had been cut from the property and reflected what was going on at that time. One of our 43-foot beams is from one tree, free from knots. In keeping as close to home as possible, Travis secured the new wood from a small mill only twenty minutes north of us.

Six months into the project with only the skeleton of the barn remaining, the crane arrived and very gently started the process of disassembling the barn and placing it piece by piece on our field. It looked like a giant Jenga mystery. As the barn came down the four corner stones were uncovered. They had done their job, without complaint all these 160 years. Unfortunately, the city would not allow us to reuse the stones for their original purpose and insisted we place the barn on concrete pillars instead. We have kept the corner stones and returned them to the sides of the barn in honour of their lifetime of work.

To uncover the history of the property and thus the barn, we started talking to our neighbours. They were very helpful with their stories of the previous owners and had pictures they were eager to share.

… to be continued – Part 3 next Monday

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