Thursday, July 29, 2010

Old and New Tech in Old Saybrook

Our intrepid barn hunter Cherie is at it again - here she shares a fascinating find from her adventures in the field!

The three little pigs would be proud to live in a barn like this, framed in the old traditional New England style, but with walls made of straw.

The barn may not be historic in age - it was built in 2007 to replace a pole barn that burned - but its construction will likely stand the test of time.

While there are other houses made of hay, including a well-known one on this property, this is the only straw-bale barn we know of in Connecticut. It was built by Barn Raisers of East Haddam using traditional timber framing. The post and beam frame is joined in the English Square Rule style, mortise and tenon joints, pegged. No nails or bolts were used. In addition, very little power equipment was used in the joinery, relying instead on hand tools.

The walls are straw bales, stacked up, then covered with a mixture of clay, chopped hay, and lime plaster with a lime wash.

The owner, David Brown, organic farmer and artist, chose to color his 20 x 30-foot barn and 17 x 18-foot addition, in a light shade of southwestern brown.

The two-story barn serves as his cozy studio, above, and houses vegetables, flowers, eggs, farm equipment, and tools below. The barn was "raised" in the old way, relying on people of the community for its construction and becoming a social event that created new friendships and reinforced bonds between people who built something together, with the Barn as the "center of life."

photography by Brendan Matthews - the Barn Raisers

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Barn Survey comes to Litchfield County

Our next volunteer workshop is
in Kent CT,
on Wednesday, July 28
from 6 to 8 pm

Sponsored jointly with the Kent Historical Society.

We invite volunteers to help us identify the location of the barns in their towns and help with the windshield survey (simply taking a photograph of a barn, usually from the safety of a car, thus the name).

Our target area is the northwestern corner of the state including Bridgewater, Canaan, Colebrook, Cornwall, Hartland, Kent, New Hartford, New Milford, Norfolk, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, and Warren.

Please join us on July 28 at 6 pm
at the Kent Town Hall, 41 Kent Green Boulevard, Kent CT.

Light refreshments will be provided.

We will present the history of barns in CT and then teach you how to categorize barns by type, use and construction technique. The workshop will involve noting the approximate locations of the barns to be surveyed. Then we will divide up the town into manageable areas for the survey groups to survey. Teams of volunteers will adopt an area to survey and input the data into our database, found at

To participate in this exciting project, please RSVP by email to or call at 203-562-6312.