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An Old Barn Gets a New Life.
J. C. Tilton

Our farm has an old hand hewn beam barn on it. It was built sometime in the mid 1800's. But the years have take their toll. The foundations are out of kilter, the roof beams are collapsing in places and it was getting to a point where the structure was unsafe. With interest rates the lowest that they have been in years, a decision was made to build a new barn. But what to do with the old barn?

The main beams were 10" X 10" hardwood and it seemed a shame to just cut it up for firewood. A few calls and a few conversations and we found the Rogers from the Covington area who deal in antique lumber. It is a family business and they specialize in disassembling and reselling the lumber from old barns. When they came out to inspect to inspect the structure they seemed to be very knowledgeable. They were the ones who gave the approximate age of the building. They also showed where the barn had been added onto in the past - the newer additions beams had marks from the saw mill instead of axe marks from the adze used in hand hewn beams.

The more valuable parts of the barn were of course the hand hewn beams, if the siding had been wide (8 inches or so) grey weathered wood with no paint, that would have had some value. The siding on our barn had been replaced in various phases over the years and had paint on it to boot, so that had no value. However, I was surprised to learn that the wood pegs used to join the beams together had a market.

I was amazed that it took two men (Marion and Mike Rodgers) not even a full day to disassemble the barn. When these barns went up, they used a large amount of manpower. The lumber was hand fabricated, hand drilled, and placed with block and tackle. Families and neighbors would work hard to get one put up - often times the barn was built before the house according to Marion. A large ski-loader was used to take down the barn - this greatly speeded things up. The process was the reverse of the assembly. The roof was removed, then the siding, then finally the main beams. With the use of the skid loader and chainsaws, the 2 man crew arrived around 9am and by 3:30pm they had finished loading the truck and were ready to head home.

Where is the market for the antique lumber from these old barns? Upscale homes and restaurants decorating for a rustic look are the main market. Although Rogers are in the process of disassembling a complete barn in Wapakoneta that will be reassembled in Colorado. It will have modern doors and windows, but the rest of the barn will be vintage. It was sad to see the old barn go, I will take some condolence that it will find new life in a fancy new abode. So the next time you sit down at an upscale eatery in Chicago or New York - take a look around at the decor, you may very well see an Ohio barn with a new life.


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