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May Barn

The RHA continued in its work on the May Barn which was moved to the Old Stone House property in 2008. Last year saw the addition of stairs to the hayloft, which has been a favorite destination for the scout troops who tour the Old Stone House. Electricity was added to the barn to enable lighting for our growing collection of old fashioned farm implements, horse grooming equipment and our antique sleigh – which used to sit outside of the Old Stone House.

All the work has been done by a group of volunteers and everyone has a say in what to do next as well as how to do it. Since there are no definitive records of exactly what the barn looked like when it was built in the early 1800’s, we research what some of the likely features and materials would have been in barns of the period.

For example Andy Clark who heads up our building and grounds, figured that to get bales of hay into the hayloft there must have been a pulley above the hayloft door and sure enough there was evidence that the barn had, at one time, support for a peak beam in just that location. So we procured an antique barn pulley on eBay (a bargain at $17) and installed it. “Once it was in It just looked like it had always been there” remarked Kurt Pralle, longtime RHA board member.

Antique Pulley and peak beam as it looks today on the May Barn. The RHA acquired the pulley on eBay for just $17!

Antique Pulley and peak beam as it looks today on the May Barn. The RHA acquired the pulley on eBay for just $17!

Anyone who has visited the Old Stone House over the past few months has seen, in various stages, the largest restoration project undertaken by the RHA since its founding more than 50 years ago.

It all started last winter when Peter Montalbano, a local developer, called the RHA. “Peter was building 3 new homes on the former May property, which dates back to 1790” recalled Nancy Boone, our RHA president at the time. Shortly after that call, a small group of RHA trustees inspected the dilapidated old barn which had been covered in asbestos shingles, was full of carpenter ants, had a nest of bees under the rotted plywood floors, and to top things off came with a resident raccoon family in the hayloft. As Kurt Pralle our VP of Planning & Development observed at the time “The only thing holding the old girl up were the trees that had grown up around it over the years.”

The May Barn in its original location and condition on South Central Ave. in Ramsey.

The May Barn in its original location and condition on South Central Ave. in Ramsey.

Despite the poor condition and questions about how to move the structure from its South Central Ave. location, the RHA moved ahead. “It had to be saved” recalls Ron Kase, RHA’s VP of Development, “It’s what we’re all about”.

The project began in earnest this summer when the RHA contracted a company that specializes in post and beam barns to dismantle and move the structure. The RHA would like to thank Mayor Botta, the Town Council, and Nick Saros for their support which included the cost of a new foundation adjacent to the Old Stone House. We’d also like to thank Peter Montalbano who made a generous donation to get the project going as well as RHA member Carolyn Semento who sent in a donation after seeing a feature article on the project in the Suburban News.

Once the beams were dismantled they were reassembled next to the Old Stone House. By October a new cedar shingle roof was in place, any remaining damage to the beams had been repaired and the barn was ready for siding. Volunteers on the project include Andy Clark and his dad Jim, Fred Swartz, Paul Simpson, Tom Branna, Dave Delisi, Jim Palumbo, Kurt Pralle, Tom Latchford, and Mike Heffernan.

Andy Clark (right) with his dad Jim Clark working on one of the 1x12” rough-cut hemlock boards used to restore the original “board and batten” siding for the barn.

Andy Clark (right) with his dad Jim Clark working on one of the 1×12” rough-cut hemlock boards used to restore the original “board and batten” siding for the barn.

The restoration work will continue into the spring and summer of 2009 including fabrication of doors and shuttered windows, flooring and stairs for the hayloft, and restoration of the original horse stall. Long time RHA member Kurt Shuart is working on a display that will include antique horse grooming equipment and a 19th century horse trough.

Volunteers Andy Clark (on ladder) and Fred Swartz work on the May Barn restoration in October.

Volunteers Andy Clark (on ladder) and Fred Swartz work on the May Barn restoration in October.