Historic Barn On The Move

By Liz Premo

Atlantic News, Thursday, June 3, 2004

BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER - Great progress is evident in the ongoing dismantling of an 18th century barn located on Drakeside Road in Hampton. Once the coveted post-and-beam framework is taken down, the parts will be stored at the Tuck Museum for a future barnraising event. Fundraising efforts to support the project are now underway by the Hampton Historical Society. For more information on how members of the community can help out, call 929-0781.
[Atlantic News Photos by Liz Premo]

HAMPTON — The Hampton Historical Society (HHS) held a yard sale fundraiser on the grounds of Tuck Museum this weekend, and there was one particularly priceless item on display over which there was no haggling.

That item was the first wooden peg to be removed from an 18th century barn which the HHS is in the process of dismantling and relocating to Meetinghouse Green. The peg, removed last week by antique barn expert Chet Riley, serves as a symbol of the effort made on the part of HHS and the Heritage Commission to save the c. 1796 barn, located on the former Sanders & McDermott property at the corner of Lafayette and Drakeside Roads in Hampton.

The post-and-beam barn has recently been the subject of a somewhat nail biting account in a race to save it from total demolition. Arrangements had been made several weeks ago between the HHS and the listed owner of the property (234 Lafayette Road Realty Trust) to give the barn to the local non-profit, provided the HHS provided the manpower to dismantle and remove the structure in a timely manner.

A temporary setback took place when the property owners suddenly withdrew a $7000 offer to finance the project. A change of heart a few days later and the acquisition of insurance coverage for volunteers assisting with the dismantling led to the original agreement being officially finalized. Work started almost immediately, with a June 15 deadline for the HHS to have the barn removed and the area cleaned up.

"It's going fast," commented Elizabeth Aykroyd with regard to the dismantling process. Once the work began, in a matter of days the barn's clapboard exterior had been entirely removed, the sheathing taken down, the double doors taken off their runners, and the windows pulled out. The roof, walls, and floorboards were also dismantled, making way for the project's final steps.

A member of both the Heritage Commission and the HHS, Aykroyd said everything should be prepped and ready to go June 4-5 when a crane will be used to take down the post-and-beam frame. Currently, Riley has been painstakingly numbering and labeling portions of the shored-up framework for the eventual reconstruction of the barn, which will be utilized as the Hampton Historical Society's new farm museum.

"The barn will be completely down by June 6 or 7," confirmed Aykroyd. "Then it will be a matter of clean-up. God willing, without any delays, we will definitely meet the June 15 deadline." Aykroyd also pointed out that "the [property] owners have been very co-operative" and that "they feel we're doing our best to get it done." She also has high praise for Riley.

"If it hadn't been for Chet, we would have lost the barn," she comments. "It would have been chewed up and spit out."

Once the barn's components have been relocated to their storage site at Meetinghouse Green, some serious fundraising will begin to finance an eventual barn raising, an event which will most likely take place in 2005.

"I think it's going to be a real community thing," says Aykroyd. Members of the community are invited to provide much needed and appreciated donations to help bring the barn project to its completion.

Donations of any amount will be gratefully accepted; those over $100 will be recognized on a permanent plaque which will be on display in the barn. Four levels of recognition will be available: "Donor," $100 and over; "Supporter," $250 and over; "Sponsor," $500 and over; and "Benefactor," $1000 and over. With the community's help, the HHS will be successful in preserving yet another piece of Hampton history.

For additional information about the Hampton Historical Society, the Tuck Museum, or the barn project, call 929-0781 or visit www.hamptonhistoricalsociety.org.