Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Photographing a Waterford Barn: First Try, Harder Than It Looks

This is Donna Rae Heath's barn on Walsh Road, not far from Styles Pond. I thought it would be simple to photograph -- four sides and you're done! -- but found that capturing the "look" of this friendly old structure isn't that easy. I'll be interested in seeing how the rest of the team develops this skill, as we do the Waterford Barn Census this winter and spring.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lee Farm

The Lee Farm includes another set of Waterford, Vermont, farm structures already documented; this group was described in a 1982 National Register of Historic Places nomination written by Deborah Noble. The nomination can be found here:

Here is the paragraph that most intrigued me in the nomination:
The large farm complex alludes in its relative grandeur to the early days of what was then known as Waterford Hollow, when that village was formerly of "considerable importance, having a church, store, hotel, oil-mills and saw mill" and when the proximity of Stiles Pond "rendered the locality a pleasant summer retreat."(8) The Stiles family, who settled nearby, were developers of the various mills at the outlet of the pond. After business passed to nearby East St. Johnsbury and Concord, the village declined until now all that is left is the nearby cemetery and several farms bypassed by the newly constructed Interstate 93.

West View Farm

As we prepare to make lists of Waterford's most intriguing barns and outbuildings this week, I'm also looking for farm structures that have already been documented. West View Farm includes a round barn that was the last design of Northeast Kingdom architect Lambert Packard, and was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. For more information, look here:

Here is a short excerpt from the nomination report:
The most notable feature of West View Farm is its round barn. It is the last known work of the distinguished Vermont architect, Lambert Packard (1832-1908). Packard created much of Victorian St. Johnsbury, located about one mile from the farm. In addition to stately homes, his commissions included the following structures in St. Johnsbury: the Fairbanks Museum; the North Congregational Church; the former Fairbanks scale factory; the Atheneum; and the Post Office block. The homes and public buildings he designed can be found across a wide area of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Round barns are rare in Vermont, as they are elsewhere. Twenty three round (as distinct from polygonal) barns were built in Vermont - all in the northern one-third of the State. Their era ended with the start of World War One. A survey done in 1971 determined that twelve of these true round barns remained; five had not survived the preceding five years. At present there are five in Vermont.

The West View Farm round barn was built in 1903 by Fred Quimby, an East Barnet carpenter who was noted for the precision of his work in general and his silos in particular. These skills help to explain why he was able to build the first Vermont round barn in 1899. He built one other round barn which has been moved to and rebuilt at the Shelburne Museum. The West View barn is the last and largest of the three.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Barn Survey: Waterford Historical Starts New Project

At right, speaker Joshua Phillips.

Attentive audience!
Joshua Phillips brought his Vermont barn expertise to the October meeting of the Waterford Historical group, and taught about English-style barns, bank barns, roofs, why round barns were designed, and much more. Handouts on barn details and terminology and a dynamic "PowerPoint" slide show kept us all eager and the conversations afterward were full of enthusiasm.

So -- it looks like our Nov 28 meeting (at the Davies Memorial Library, 6 pm) will focus on who's going to survey which structures (or areas), and setting some priorities. Mr. Phillips suggested that November and April are the best months for taking unobstructed photos of all four sides of a barn or other farm-related building (yes, sugarhouses count!).

For copies of the handouts, look here:

And if you can't be at the November meeting but you're interested in working on this, or want to suggest some agricultural buildings in town, please do leave a message at the library and one of us will get back to you.

Oh yes -- why do this? Because it will help preserve our barns! The Barn Census is step one in making sure that state and private preservation groups pay attention, and direct some funds, toward the fascinating structures and history that we have right here.