White Elephant

whiteelephant

Well, the decision has been made. We now know what we are going to do with our beautiful, old, gigantic barn.

Recently, a guy who is considered one of the preeminent experts in the state of Vermont on old barn restoration and dismantling stopped by to give me his assessment of the barn. After spending an afternoon exploring the barn, he sent me the following email:

Hello Morgan,

I spent a good amount of time in your barn yesterday. It’s quite the barn. However:

  • It is too large for us to tackle
  • It is too far away for the amount of time it would take to dismantle it
  • There is very little market for barns this large
  • There is very little market for rough saw timber barns as opposed to hand hewn
  • It would take weeks just to empty it of all the hay and partitions

I would suggest: That you call in a contractor with a large excavator to tear it down.
Set aside beams that are not damaged for possible resale. Place all combustible materials in burn piles out in the back field to be burned during the snow covered ground months.

I’m sorry that I don’t have a more favorable report but it really is a “white elephant.”

It’s a blunt email but there is a lot of truth to it. It’s hard to give up on a building with so much history, but sometimes it’s necessary to tear down the past to build for the future.

Since purchasing the farm last year, I’ve consulted with eleven different barn experts and contractors with lots of barn experience. The consensus viewpoint is the following:

  • The barn is epic, awe-inspiring and historic.
  • It’s old but not so old that it is made entirely from hand hewn beams.
  • It will be very expensive to restore it.
  • Even if we were to fully rehab the barn, it will never be able to serve the needs of our future agricultural operation. You can’t keep a tractor or cows on the second or third stories.
  • It would be significantly cheaper to build a new structure to our specifications.
  • It’s impossible someone who will take down the old barn and resell most of the wood.

So given those facts, Allison and I have made the decision to pull down the barn and put up a new barn next year.

I’m thinking of having a kick ass bonfire during the winter solstice. It would be like a giant funeral pyre for a barn life well lived. Would anyone be interested in attending?

7 thoughts on “White Elephant

  1. Bummer……seeing the elephant made me think of the circus. Can it not be emptied out to just a huge theatre building…..see Boulder Colorado’s Chatauqua. Built for lectures, music etc. as part of a movement by the same name to bring culture to rural areas

  2. An emphatic YES for attending a winter bonfire to honor the life of your epic barn! Maybe you could pair such an event with a story-telling circle of local old timers who could share memories of the farm and barn…a fitting goodbye.

  3. It will be sad to see The White Elephant Barn” go but you have to look at what is best for you and Alison and your needs. If you have a bonfire on Winter Solstice, I’ll bring the making of S’mors!

  4. Sorry to hear the barn must go! We had an old barn in the middle of Stamford (ca: 1878) – pulled it down with Dad Augie’s old station wagon!!
    it’s been replaced by Condos . . .

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