Notes on a visit to Alan Gilman’s barn, April 29, 2013
Alan’s mother could document the building of the barn, house & shed back to 1795. Alan thought it could have been built a few years earlier, maybe 1792 or 1793. Alan thought the barn to be about 30’ high. The tax records state that it is 36’ wide x 55’ long. Clapboards line the front and one side. Shingles line the back.
There is post and beam construction throughout. After wood pegs were soaked in grease, they were driven in. Alan found a bucket of pegs which he’s used to make repairs. The barn was probably built by a community barn raising. The barn, as Susan observed, is still completely square – walls & roof line have not shifted. The barn is completely dry – the steel roof does not leak. It is a drive-through front to back. An occasional porcupine or skunk ambles through it, doing no harm. The back door is barred shut. The front sliding door opens & closes with ease.
The foundation is loose fieldstone. A crawl space (4″-5″) underlies the barn.
When you enter the barn, on your immediate left is the granary. A wooden grain bin is still there. Next to the granary is a two-horse stall, each with a window. Bark was still on the overhead beams.
A built-in ramp, starting about three feet off the floor, leads to the loft.
On the far side of the double horse stall was an open area that stretched up to the ridge pole. Loose hay once filled the entire space. They’d drive a hay wagon into the barn, nearly touching the walls on both sides & pitched the hay up onto the second floor. They just threw down the hay to the center section to feed the animals.
As you enter the barn, opposite the granary & horse stall, cattle were housed. Hay is still packed on the floor about 2 feet deep. A wide door leads outdoors to a partially roofed area fenced by a stone wall.
They had 16 Dorset-Cross sheep and 3 Scottish Highlanders (cows) until grain & hay prices went sky high a few years back. Alan’s wife is a weaver, who worked with a spinning wheel and loom.
On the walls we noticed an 8” – 10” wood clamp; a circular chain to keep cows in place indoors; a 1915 automobile license. An iron soil cultivator lay against the back wall outdoors.