Dutch Barn Preservation Society

Dedicated to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns

Volume 1 Issue 1
Part TWO

North end, Schaeffer-Ingold barn. The barn contained no evidence of ever having a double wagon door in the north end. An addition, removed, was previously attached to the north end of the barn. The compass orientation of the ridge was NE to SW.

Research Finds

Seventeenth century "Dutch" barns began to be erected soon after the arrival of Dutch and other North European settlers of New Netherland. Some early contracts for the erection of Dutch barns in the Hudson Valley have survived; these documents were usually executed before a Notary Public and became part of his record. Because contracts often were in Dutch, their translation into English has posed technical problems with architectural terminology. The following contract for a barn at Kinderhook called for a roof with a clipped gable at each end. Unfortunately, no surviving barn here exhibits this typically European feature. The "extension" called for in the contract is the outside aisle for stock, making the dimensions of the barn 50' by 46'. The "loft beam" could be termed today an "anchorbeam." The translation was done by Jonathan Pearson and was edited by A.J. Van Laer and published in Early Records of Albany (1660-1696), Vol. 3, Albany, 1918, on pages 424 and 425.

Contract of Harmen Bastiaesen to build a barn at Kinderhook for Ian Maertensen:
On this 8th day of February 1675 appeared before me, Adriaen van Ilpendam, notary public residing in New Albany, and before the afterwritten witnesses, Harmen Bastiaensz of the one part, and }an Maertensz of the other part, who in love and friendship are agreed in the manner following, to wit: Harmen Bastiaensz acknowledges that he has undertaken to build for }an Maertensz at Kinderhook a barn fifty feet long and twenty-six feet wide, with an extension on each side, ten feet deep and running the full length of the barn, and at each end a gable with sloping peak; furthermore to make in said barn five bents with five loft beams, of which five bents three are to have brackets, a double door at the front end of the barn and one door in each of the extensions, a horse manger forty feet long and all the inside work that belongs to a barn, except the floor, and properly to put on the rafters of the roof. The contractor promises to begin to work thereon next March of this year and not to stop before the work shall be completed. The employer promises to furnish the contractor with a man for one month to help rough-hew the timber; furthermore the employer shall provide all the materials so that the contractor shall not wait for them, and when the work is completed, the employer promises to pay to the contractor for the work done thirty-one good, whole, salable beaver skins, or wheat or other wares at market price, with which, if they suit him, the contractor is to be content: but on condition that he shall give the contractor in hand three mudde of wheat so soon as he begins the work, to be deducted from the aforesaid stipulated sum, and furthermore pay the half next harvest and the remainder next winter. . . .

The Stabilization Of Barns and Other Wooden Structures

By Harold Zoch

Existing wooden structures can continue to survive with some minor effort on the part of the owner. Moisture is the prime destroyer of wooden structures. The Dutch barn's design has aided its survival. The design provides for the major load bearing members to be internal to the structure. The outside walls, the ,most vulnerable, bear a minor portion of the roof load. Despite this protection, some barns are still lost to decay.

The key word in wooden structure survival is ventilation. Anything that prevents ventilation or causes a need for ventilation will eventually destroy the structure. The following suggestions will improve the survivability of your wooden structure.

1. Repair roofs quickly. This is the most important requirement.

2. Remove brush and built-up material from around the edges of barns. This will provide ventilation to the sills.

3. Most Dutch barns are built on piers - laid up short columns of stone. Clean out around these areas to allow for airflow underneath the floors.

4. Remove old hay and other unnecessary material from inside the barn. This will, in addition to aiding ventilation, remove a fire hazard.

5. Remove any superfluous wiring. If wire is needed, install it using the appropriate wiring codes. This will usually require containment of wiring and bulbs.

6. Once the sills are thoroughly dry consider the use of a wood preservative.

Note: As a last step, the Dutch barn or other structure should be recorded. Photos can be taken, sketches made, or a video camera can be used. The need is to preserve as much information as possible about the barn and site. Many barns are being destroyed by removal from the site, fire and natural causes. The purpose of the recording is to provide a historic record of the structure and its environs. The Dutch Barn Preservation Society can assist you with the recording needs for Dutch barns.

The Teller Barn: A Rare Record of a Seventeenth Century Barn Dismantled 40 Years Ago.


The Dutch Barn Preservation Society

c/o The Mabee Farm Historic Site
1080 Main St. (Rt. 5S)
Rotterdam Junction, NY 12150

Site Phone: (518) 887-5073



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