The New Custodians: Part 3 of 3
by Cathy and Richard Cooper, Kingston
Continued from Part 2 published October 24th. | Part 1 published October 17th.
We learned that the original 100 acres was first granted in 1775 to Silas Johnstone as part of the Crowns Land Act. It changed hands several times before being purchased by Alexander Grant in 1846. The census of 1851 describes the house in in detail but with no mention of out buildings. The land registry does document the addition of a barn in 1863.
The1863 barn, disassembled by us in the spring of 2021, sat in pieces on the field for months, while new beams were hewn, old ones repaired, and all pressure washed. Their dark almost black grime of years gone by, removed, revealing the original honey brown hue they once had. Watching the barn come down in pieces we worried that the ambiance the beams created, and the past they held, would somehow be lost, leaked out on the field.
In the fall, the bones of the great barn were repositioned under the caring hand of the crane operator and Travis’s keen eye. It slotted back together perfectly, like a Lincoln log building, without any adjustments needed. It was amazing to see it rise from the ground so seamlessly.
Standing inside for the first time, its beams and posts once again wrapped around us, transporting us to the past. Nothing had been lost.
The 45 x 33 ft structure stands once again on its original footprint, boasting its new red roof, windows, and staircase to the loft. It waits patiently for its four large doors to enter and exit the wagon bay. We were able to restore the barn using sixty-five to seventy percent of the original structure including the hay rail track that ran the length of the roof centre beam. To leave our mark for future generations, we had all the new hinges forged by local master blacksmith Stefan Duerst, in the shape of a large “C.”
It has been an incredible journey through time bringing this valuable piece of our province’s history back to its original, or as close to its original, beauty and splendor as possible. Thanks to Travis, we have enjoyed every minute of it.
2 thoughts on “The New Custodians: Part 3 of 3”
Wonderful project. Details of the restoration (how joints were made, how to reconstitute foundation or the degraded ends of the posts, etc) would be interesting to know. But my key question to Travis or the owners is: Which is a better or more economic approach? That of disassembly-reconstitution of destroyed members and siding-re-assembly on the original site (as undertaken), or in-situ restoration of the building?
Thank you to Cathy and Richard for this interesting record of their old barn restoration project. Congratulations on the effort and care and expense you took in preserving your historic building. I hope it stands many, many more decades sheltering livestock or sheltering an office or workshop. Thank you too for sharing the photos and information with Ontario Barn Preservation.