I can admit that some people might think I have a problem with my relationship to timber-framed buildings. My woodshop is a 1790s Vermont frame, my blacksmith shop is a hand-hewn Charpentier sans Frontières frame, our newly built cottage is a modern rough-sawn frame I bought third hand from a friend, and six years ago, my wife Julia and I took down an 1810-ish cape cod house to restore for our home. When we took it down, we swept in to save it from bulldozing, but we were not ready to put it up right then. We knew we needed at least few years of preparations to get things in our life ready for such an undertaking.
We’re finally ready.
Over the winter Mike U, Mike C, and I will be restoring the frame so that we can raise it in spring. Because the house is only 30' x 34', Julia and I decided early on that we’d want an ell addition. We’ve been on the lookout a small frame that we could attach to the house to serve as a mudroom/summer kitchen. We were looking for something small, hand hewn, and minimally finished (so that we didn’t have weeks upon weeks of deconstruction).
A month ago the ideal frame finally appeared. The late 1700s building is 20' x 24' with a circa-1900 stick frame extension which served as the farm woodshop. I decided I wanted to buy the frame upon first sight. Some family members’ eyebrows might have raised when I confessed that we’d be taking another frame down, but… this is the last one. I swear. Yeah… pretty sure.
Yesterday, we began dismantling the barn to move it to my house. We had quite a crew: Mike Updegraff and McGarry (his oldest), Julia, Eden, Mike and Grace Cox, and my brother-in-law Justin (who came over at the tail end of the day). We got a ton accomplished in 11 hours. We took the doors and windows out, stripped all the cedar shingles off the walls, stripped the asphalt shingles off the roof, emptied the upstairs of relics and refuse, and began pulling roof sheathing off. Besides a few pieces of remaining trim, as of right now, all we have left is sheathing and the frame. Then we’re taking it all home.
Yesterday was a long day, but we were pumped the whole way through, which made the work fly by. We’re back at it today, with a smaller crew. If things keep going this smoothly, we might be finished before the weekend. No guarantees, but I can say this was an awesome start.
I will be writing a lot more about this project in the future (and sharing photos of the house itself). If you’re interested in restoring old houses and putting them back into use for a new generation, stay tuned. There will be more.