Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pennsylvania Dutch Barns Featured in Survey

How many Dutch barns still exist in Pennsylvania?

The Dutch Barn Preservation Society is going to count, inventory and create an accurate study.

The Dutch Farmstead survey -- which will look in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont -- will take three years. It began last year with a basic, quick survey to identify properties for more intensive study. The second phase will add a brief history, written description and sketches of each property. Then, surveyors will compile in-depth examinations, including comprehensive history, site plan, measured drawings and detailed photos.

Members of the preservation society and Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture will lead the survey. Vernacular architecture refers to ordinary buildings representative of a given period. The two groups will work with the Stichting Historisch Boerderi-Onderzoek (Institute for Historic Farm Research) in the Netherlands. All are nonprofit organizations.

The Dutch barn is one of the last physical reminders of the pre-industrial agricultural heritage in the eastern United States, said Schenectady county and city historian Don Rittner. The efficient, heavy timber structure was adapted from the European style and reflects the skills of the predominantly Dutch immigrants who settled the area and their descendants, he said.

Dutch barns differ from other historic farm buildings because of their distinctive boxlike shape, low side walls and broad, pitched gabled roofs. Beams are joined on the interior in an H-shaped frame, providing a rigid core that supports the external roofing and walls. Columned aisles are positioned alongside a central space, which was once used for threshing grain. The ends of crossbeams projecting through the columns are often rounded to form tongues, a distinctive feature found only in the Dutch barn.

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Read the full article from the Albany Times Union