| Barn Restoration at White House Farm
Summit Point, West Virginia
A detailed description of the restoration of the oldest standing barn
in West Virginia, conducted between 2003 and 2005
| In February, 2003, during a 3-ft snowfall, the roof of the barn collapsed and a
large section of the east wall was blown out.
| In March 2003, a grant proposal was prepared and submitted to the
WV State Historical Preservation Office requesting funds to restore
the barn to its original style using period construction methods. The
grant was awarded in July 2003 and Alicia McCormick, a local
engineer, was hired to design the restoration project.
| The barn at White House Farm dates to the mid 1740's when the farm was established.
Originally built as a stable, it was converted to use as a dairy barn in the early 20th
Century. The original gable roof was replaced with a gambrel type, a concrete floor and
feed troughs were installed, and the original louvered windows and one door were
replaced with glass-paned sash and fixed windows. For more information on its history
please visit the White House Farm Home Page at http://whitehousefarmwv.org/whitehousefarm.html
| The roof was removed shortly thereafter and tarps were placed over three of the
remaining walls to keep them from deteriorating further. The west wall required
total rebuilding so it was left uncovered. The end wall shape indicates that the
original barn roof was a gable style.
| After an extended time for engineering design and
contract bid solicitation and award, Village Restorations
and Consulting, Inc, of Claysburg, PA, was selected to
restore the barn. Click here to learn about this firm.
| Led by Roland Cadle, the restoration
crew began site preparation in April,
2004. A portion of the north wall was
demolished and stones from the west
wall, which had collapsed during
Hurricane Isobel, were moved so that
the affected walls could be rebuilt.
| Once the area had been cleared, construction began on the
base of the north wall (above) and a concrete foundation was
built at the south (far) end of the west wall (left) to protect the
west wall from deforming as it had done previously due to
soil and water pressure from the adjacent fill. In the
picture on the left, note the original 1740's foundation
stones and their proximity to the natural rock outcropping,
which served to stabilize a portion of the original west wall.
Note above how the new walls will incorporate this same
use of the rock break to provide support.
| By July, the west wall was well on its way to completion
and a new window had been put in place which exactly
reproduced the original louvered window (sill shown
above) discovered when the old wall collapsed during
Hurricane Isobel in 2003.
| In September, restoration of the east wall began. Once the
glass and window frames had been removed, it was
found that two of the openings had originally been built as
doorways, so mortise and tenon frames were built to the
original dimensions. The raised doorway on the
right is believed to have led to a stairway to the loft, so
the loft design was modified to accomodate the new
stairway as well. By October, the wall was completed and
construction of the timber-frame roof was initiated.
| Old logs that had been used twice before (in a log house and a timber
frame barn in PA) were purchased in 2003 to serve as joists and sills
for the barn. After they had been squared up a bit using a broad axe,
"dove-tailed" slots (shown above) were carved into the sills and matching
members were carved onto the ends of several joists. These joists keep
the side sills from pulling apart under the load of the roof itself. The
remaining joists were spliced and pegged into place to provide a clear
and level base for the loft floor.
| In addition to the dove-tails, "bird-mouth" notches were hewn into the sills to hold the
similarly notched roof rafters (see photos above). The bird mouths keep the rafters from
spreading apart from the weight of the roof superstructure.
The other ends of the 14 ft long rafters were notched and drilled to accept a wooden pin that fastened
them together to form the ridge peak, shown below
| The loft flooring of pine boards over 1" thick was nailed to the log joists using hand-made nails with
rose heads appropriate to the mid-1700's. An opening was left in the northeast corner of the loft for
the stairway rising from a loading platform located on either side of the doorway.
Note also in the left photograph above that the stone gable end of the barn was partially dismantled to
allow installation of a new louvered window, which will provide light and air to the loft.
| Barn as it existed in October 2002,
when it was on the Jefferson County
| By October 25th, two of the 14 sets of rafters which provide the foundation
for the purlins and hand-split cedar shakes were in place.
| By November 3rd, Roland and Jerrod had
completed nailing the purlins to the rafters.
| With the purlin nailing completed,
attention turned to nailing the hand-split
cedar shakes to them. At the same time
the barn doors were painted with Old Village Paint's oil-based New England Red paint.
| On November 3rd, the small window in the east wall was constructed on site by Bill
Douglas, a wood craftsman from Village Restorations and Consulting. A larger version
of this type of window was also constructed by Mr. Douglas for the south wall loft window.
|By November 3rd, cedar shakes had been nailed to about 75% of the east side of the roof.|
| By November 11th, the entire roof had been completed and
restoration of the gable end wall had begun in earnest. Note
the new louvered window in place and John laying stones
above it in the photo below.
| On November 15th, several workmen arrived to begin
pointing the exterior, complete laying the stone for the
south wall, and hang the large barn doors and window
| By early December, the pointing and roof had been completed
and the wooden doors and windows had been painted. Work
also began on constructing a new shake roof for the silo.
| By December 21, the silo roof had been completed
and it was hoisted into place with a large crane and
fastened to the silo.
|To return to White House Farm
home page, click here
| By early January, all remaining wood work was
completed, a packed gravel floor was in place, and
the interior walls and ceiling had been whitewashed.
The resulting overall appearance of the barn is as
close to an 18th century Scots-Irish structure as could
be done today and the 20th century silo, although still
an eye-sore, is now better integrated into the
otherwise colonial aspects of the property.