The Barn Dilemma

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We have a dilemma. We have an amazing, historic barn. It’s estimated to be 120-150 years old. It’s beautiful. It has character. But we’re not really quite sure what to do with it.

The barn is massive. How massive? Well, I know that the footprint of the barn is roughly 46 feet wide and 120 feet long. And it’s three stories tall. By my estimation, it is more than 12,000 square feet of floor space. To put that into perspective, it’s roughly the size of Fort Knox. Like I said, it’s a massive barn.

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The house and barn in 1900. Photo Source: Peacham Historical Association
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A few of the old stalls.

The barn layout is unique and Vermont quirky. It was originally a dairy barn. On the first floor, there are horse stalls. The stalls are still loaded with petrified manure! Somebody needs to muck, but I refuse to do it.

There is also an old outhouse in the barn. It has two a two-seater, which must have made things super awkward.

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The side-by-side outhouse. There’s nothing quite like going to the bathroom with your leg bumping up against a family member who is also going to the bathroom.

I currently use the first floor as a makeshift workshop and storage space.

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The garage and lumber yard.

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The second floor is where the old milking parlor used to be. It’s amazing to think that they actually got cows up to that second floor and the building could support their weight. I get nervous just walking around on the creaky/bendy floorboards these days.

 

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The addition being knocked down.

 

The second story has a number of additions that were bolted on over the years. When we first bought the farm, one of the additions looked like it was on the verge of collapsing taking the rest of the barn with it. In the fall, my buddy, Justin helped take down the problematic addition. The risk of imminent collapse has been mitigated, but there’s still a lot of clean-up work to do.

 

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The epic high drive.

 

The third story houses the massive hayloft. A ramp, known as a high drive, opens out to the back pasture. Looking out from the high drive is arguably one of the most epic and beautiful views on the farm.

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You used to be able to go from the very front of the house to the back of the barn without setting foot outside. Very Vermont.

 

 

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We’re almost done separating the house from the barn.

 

I have constant angst when it comes to making a game plan around what to do with the barn. This awesome barn needs a lot of work to be preserved. And Allison and I really want to keep the barn in its original state. It deserves I’ve had a few barn experts come out to the farm perform inspections. The consensus recommendation is that, to restore the barn properly, it will take a crazy amount of money. Really crazy. Like Gary-Busey-and-Charlie-Sheen-hanging-out-with-Phil-Spector crazy. And even if we did fix it up right, it won’t be all that useful for the time of farming I’m planning on doing.

So given the dilemma, we aren’t sure what to do.One wise man I know suggested taking it down and reusing most of the wood on a new building.Some people tell us it would be a great rental spot for weddings. Others think it would make a cool restaurant. So what do you think? What should we do with the barn?

5 thoughts on “The Barn Dilemma

  1. I think there is a barn preservation program in VT which would offer some grant money…you should see if you can find out more about that…

  2. My friend who has a similarly large barn rents it out as a movie location. Great 2nd source of income for him.

    Hope you are both enjoying it…it’s beautiful!

  3. we always try to keep the old because of the history behind it however when it becomes a money pit it’s a different story Years ago in Newtown I did a job that the guy had the barn taken down in upstate NY and brought down here he wanted to erect the old barn but i was gonna cost too much so we just used all that we could from it and built a some what used barn if you wanna call it that and now he had two stories to tell about his barn Just thought that was pretty cool and of coarse it came out awesome Food for thought
    K.Dee

  4. Try looking up farm land grants with the USDA. There could be some support there to maintain, preserve, or renovate the historical barn.

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