Dutch Barn Preservation Society

Dedicated to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns

NEWSLETTER, FALL 1991, Vol. 4, Issue 2 Part Two

Bronck Dutch barn, cross section of the fourth bent, looking north. Drawing by Mark Peckham, July 1991.

Bronck Dutch barn, transverse section, looking west. Drawing by Mark Peckham, July 1991.

The double anchor beam at the rear of the barn, an early nineteenth century adaptation, was integral to the construction of this barn and was not merely added later. This adaptation occurred in the fourth bent of the barn, where a second anchor beam was placed below the regular anchor beam. The lower anchor beam was mortised into the columns and also connected to the anchor beam above by mortised studs. Along the top of the lower anchor beam were cut-outs to hold joists reaching to the back wall; although these joists have been removed, the cut ends remain in location on the back wall and along the lower anchor beam. (See photo.) On these joists, poles or a floor were laid for storing hay.

This fairly common nineteenth century modification of the traditional Dutch barn plan provided additional hay storage space, but reduced the size of the threshing floor and eliminated any possibility of a rear door opposite the front door, so wagons could not pass through. There is no evidence of a granary, a common feature in Dutch barns. Neither is there any threshing pole pivot in the barn, suggesting it was not used, as many barns were, for threshing by a team of horses going around in a circle. In addition, since both a rear door, for wind currents, and the threshing floor were essential for winnowing, it appears that threshing or winnowing grain was not a major activity planned for this barn when it was built. In another related modification, the front wagon entrance was not placed in the traditional center location. However, the floor, with its two- and three-inch thick planks, was constructed in the traditional way with a spline down the center. The spline, a part of the frame under the barn, had a wide shoulder to support the floorboards.

The first three columns on the west side of the threshing floor were modified -to carry supports for a manger, now gone. Column shown is part of the third bent. The manger extended to the left. Photo by Harold Zoch, June 1991.

It is most likely that not many horses were kept in this barn. Facing in towards the threshing floor, the horses would have been situated in that part of the west aisle in front of which the manger was formerly located. Mortises and wear marks for the manger occur in the first three columns on the west side of the threshing floor. The manger extended for only the two bays closest to the south end, rather than along one entire. side of the threshing floor, as is sometimes the case. It has been theorized that the wagon entrance was off center because the manger on the west side projected into the threshing floor. Another possibility is the off-center entrance may have been related to the absence of a rear exit and to the extra hay storage at the rear.

Extra, lower anchor beam in the fourth bent was integral to the Bronck barn's frame construction. It was intended to support a floor for an extra hay loft. Photo by Harold Zoch, June 1991.

Thick boards of the threshing floor met at a center spline, where they were held in place by pegs. Photo by Harold Zoch, June 1991.

Since hay storage seemed uppermost in the minds of the builders of the Bronck Dutch barn, a construction date in the first third of the nineteenth century, when dairying was more important than grain production, is plausible. It seems in character that the Broncks retained the Dutch framing style because they had a good anchor beam set available from another barn, and because of their strong Hudson Valley heritage.

Roof rafter has curved notch over purlin.

 

Members Shirley Dunn, Mark Hesler, Greg Huber, Peter Sinclair, and Harold Zoch, and Greene County Historical Society members Raymond Beecher and Shelby Kriele have contributed to the text of the preceding article. Other Dutch Barn Preservation Society members have helped measure and analyze the barn.

 

View of double anchor beam from the rear. Note the cut off ends of the hay loft floor joists in the lower anchor beam, center of picture. Photo by Peter Sinclair, June 1991.

RESEARCH FINDS: Hay Barracks

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