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.
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.”
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.
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.