Dutch Barn Preservation Society

Dedicated to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns

NEWSLETTER, FALL 1998, Vol. 11, Issue 2

Center Section with Plans of Main Floor and Cellar, Palen Stone House, Marbletown, N. Y.

The room to the left of the center hall has evidence on the ceiling beams of a light partition that is no longer there. This kind of room division to form a side bedroom may date to a time before the lofts of local houses were finished and partitioned off for bedrooms and dormer windows cut into the roof for light. This room to the left of the center hall has a built-in four door cupboard with 1800s period paneling and molding. The three internal ceiling beams (1, 2 & 3) each measures 7" x 11" and is of pine wood planed to a smooth surface. Some edges are beaded. The beams and the bottom planed surface of the ceiling boards have never been painted.

The room derives from the classic four-bay(7) Dutch plan like that of the 1690 Bevier/Elting house in New Paltz but this 1800 example has adopted the English jambed fireplace, eliminating the need for a massive hood beam with trimmers and so all three internal ceiling beams are about the same dimension.

It is noteworthy that the builder of the Palen house, in order to create a facade of close and regularly spaced front windows, disregarded the structural placement of beams by resting some on the frames of windows and doors. An earlier builder might have sacrificed the regularity of window placement to support beams on the masonry walls.

The two internal beams (4 & 5) of the three-bay center hall are also planed pine while the five internal beams (6, 7, 8, 9 & 10) of the six-bay room to the right all measure 6" x 9", have hewn faces and are scarred with pine-bore beetle holes. There is no evidence of lath and plaster. Their red patina does not match the ceiling boards. It is one of many hints that the house has utilized recycled parts.

The three internal cellar beams (1, 2 & 3) in the kitchen are rough hewn and measure approximately 7" x 10". Some of the five internal beams (4, 5, 6, 7 & 8) in the storage room are hewn, others planed smooth. They range in size from 6" x 10" to 12" x 15" and many are reused. All of the beam sizes in the house serve structural needs but their finish and size also express the builder's values concerning each room.

Closer study of the house and barn over time would probably solve some of the questions concerning original form and development and might also uncover new mysteries.


NOTES ON PALEN DUTCH BARN & HOUSE

1. Berends, G., Historische Houtconstructies in Nederland, Stichting Historisch Boerderij-Onderzock, 1996. This is an excellent book with good drawings and photographs. There is a one-page English summary of the contents but unfortunately the text and captions are not translated.

2. Sobon, Jack, The Scribe Rule or Square Rule?, Self published 1987.

3. Peter Sinclair and Susan Sahler, Town of Rochester, Report on Historic Barns and Timber Framing, Spillway Farm Press, 1997, p.66. 4. Sobon, Scribe Rule. 5. Fitchen, John, The New World Dutch Barn, Syracuse University Press, 1968. Still the most comprehensive study but long out of print and selling for $180 a copy used.

6. Sinclair & Sahler, Town of Rochester, p. 6.

7. Sinclair, Peter, The Four-Bay New World Dutch House-a tour with John Stevens of three Eighteenth-Century Stone Houses in Ulster County, NY, Spillway Farm Press, 1998.

Ten year old photo of Dutch Barn and carriage house before collapse of carriage house. Notice board and batten siding on carriage house as opposed to the horizontal siding of the Dutch barn.

 

 

View of house and barn complex looking east. The chimney shown is wide to accommodate the flues of the cellar kitchen and the fireplace on the main floor. In the earlier Dutch tradition' these two flues would have been wide and placed one behind the other rather than side-by-side as was done here.

 

 

The Palen site plan shows two features that are common to regional homesteads. The barn is located higher than the house and the roof lines of the barn and house run in the same direction, in this case, northeast to southwest.

 

 


POWDER POST BEETLE ALERT!

By Harold Zoch, President, Schoharie County Historical Society

During a familiarization tour of the Dutch Barn at the Schoharie County Historical Society at the Old Stone Fort, our curator, Starlyn D'Angelo, noticed tannish dust on a column. Upon removal of a short plank-like attachment, she noted that the column was being destroyed. The cause of this destruction was Powder Post Beetles. I found a similar infestation (but not as severe) at the Best House Museum in Middleburgh. At the Society's Dutch Barn, fully 40 percent of the column cross-section was gone.

Under the barn, I noticed the same conditions on our middle and column sills. The areas which are affected show perfectly round holes about one sixteenth of a inch in diameter (see photo). Streaming down from these holes is a tannish streak of fine powder. On flat surfaces, such as the tops of sills, there is a pile of the tannish powder surrounding the holes.

This search under the barn showed that the older oak material was being attacked. Newer oak material did not appear to be attacked. The new wall sills, which are hemlock, appeared untouched. During floor removal to facilitate spraying, however, some older attacks in the floor, which is hemlock, were noted by Chris Palmatier.

Similar areas of attack also appear at the Best House. Sleighs, desk, horse stalls and a chopping block were attacked. Based on observations at both sites, it appears that the beetles prefer hard woods, perhaps older hard woods.

These are personal observations which might be specific to my sites. It would be best to examine your own buildings, no matter what the wood type, and look for the typical holes and powder streaks or piles.

Several years ago the entire Old Stone Fort building was sprayed for similar conditions. At that time and this time the professional pest control person was called. We suggest you obtain professional help if you find the same conditions.


1998 Recipient of the Dutch Barn Repair Grant Mount Gulian Society, Beacon, Dutchess County, New York

The Dutch Barn at Mount Gulian is commonly known as the VerplanckVan Wyck barn. It was moved to Mount Gulian, a reconstructed Verplanck home, in 1975. The barn came from the farm of Philip Verplanck at Hopewell Junction, fifteen miles away. John Fitchen in his book, The New World Dutch Barn, describes it as "4-bay. 43'-10" long, 49'-11" wide, 9 1/2-ft. side-wall height. North-South orientation. Wagon doors at both gable-ends; usual entrance at North. 10 1/2 "x 11 1/4" columns spaced 26'-5" transversely, face to face. 5'-3" height to soffit of longitudinal links; 6'-3" height to that of transverse struts. Very slender rafters, spaced irregularly about 4' -6" apart on the average. Regular pattern of fairly long sway-braces. Roman numeral numbering of framed members starts at North end. Anchorbeams of yellow pine, other structural members of oak. Rather coarse workmanship throughout. Unique feature: cantilevered projection of North gable (originally at South end, too), central portion, from anchorbeam level." See photos, pages 148 and 149. A photo of this barn is in the 1929 book by Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776, page 43.

As Fitchen mentions, the unique feature of this barn is the overhanging gable in lieu of a pent roof. The purlin plates actually extend beyond the end wall columns to accommodate this construction.

A fundraising campaign for the barn is underway. Phase one, installation of the barn doors is near completion. Phase two, restoration of the beams is slated for 1999.

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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