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The Threshing Floor

A forum of historic notes and discussion.

The New World Dutch Barn

Early settlers came to America from many different countries and brought with them from Europe not only their ways of living, but also their architecture, including their agricultural buildings like barns. Perhaps the most majestic of all the agricultural building types brought from Europe to America are the Dutch Barns found in the region of the […]
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The Glen Barn

Built c. 1870, the Glen barn is one of the largest barns ever built in New York State measuring forty feet wide by one hundred feet long. Heritage Restorations has restored over 200 barns from New York, and it is the largest barn that they have ever moved and rebuilt. The history of the Glen […]
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Mott Gristmill

There is something about gristmills and waterwheels that resonates with just about everyone. The gristmill is an American icon that evokes sentiments of home and community, as is evidenced in the gristmill pictures so many of us have in our homes. Perhaps some of this sentiment was at the heart of our efforts in 1999 to […]
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LaRue Barn

We found the LaRue barn through a phone call from a woman in northern New Jersey who had heard about our work of moving and restoring barns. She wanted to know if we would possibly want to move an old barn that was in danger of being demolished to make way for a new suburban development. At the time […]
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Middleburg Palatine House

Adjacent to the LaRue barn1 you will find another timber-framed building that is actually an early American house. It was originally built about 1750 in the Schoharie Valley of New York state on a hillside above the Schoharie Creek. The left half measures twenty feet by twenty feet and is the original old house. The timber-framed addition […]
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The Great Epizootic of 1872

An Example of Large-scale Vulnerability from the Past People often ask what interesting things we find in the centuries-old barns we dismantle for our barn restoration business. Well, there are a lot of interesting “things,” like the time we found an old pillowcase hidden in a corner of the first barn that we took down that […]
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Water Wheel

In late 2012 a private golf course near Houston, Texas was in the process of a facility expansion including a new 9 hole-par three surrounding a small lake.  The facility expansion required a major infrastructure up grade to the course’s irrigation/fertilization system called “fertigation”.  An 8′ foot diameter concrete well installed below the water table […]
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Colonel Drake Saves the Whales

From time to time, in my travels in the Northeast, I pass through the sleepy hamlet of Greenville, New York—just another rural American village on the landscape of formerly thriving agricultural communities. Over the last eighty years, such communities have undergone a relentless depopulating, as generations of young people abandoned their agrarian roots and made their ways […]
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Anatomy Of A Barn Treasure

One of the side benefits to working with old barns is that they were often the repositories of old things. Interesting old things. This series of articles is on the old things that we come up with in our barn work. Take this old box for example. More properly, I should call it a chest. […]
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The Barn Melting Pot

I am often asked the question of where we get our barns. When I reply, “Mostly from New York,” I am then asked, aren’t there good barns in other states? To answer this question takes a history lesson. First, there are proportionately few barns in the western United States that are timber-framed. This is because […]
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The Joinery Trade

We just completed another timber framing class here at Ploughshare in which we built a new timber frame of a 24 x 24 building. This is a three-day class that has bit off more than it can chew in three days and which we need to expand to at least five days. The class calls […]
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Old World Meets New

More than any other factor, what differentiated American timber framing from its predecessors in the Old World was when the Old World pioneers came to America, they were confronted with a very different building reality in that the materials they had on hand to build with, namely trees, were vastly different from their experience in […]
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To Move or Not To Move?

As the founder and owner of a commercial barn preservation company I have operated on the premise that through our barn preservation work we are striving to save America’s architectural treasures from demise and destruction. I recently realized, however, that my lofty opinion of our efforts is not held in common by all other preservation […]
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Not all Barns are created equal

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is: “How can you tell a good barn from a bad barn?” My answer to this question is that you must look at each barn carefully with an eye to a combination of history, craftsmanship and plain ole wear-and-tear, and you must have a trained eye […]
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