Monitor Barn, Richmond, VT

Project Overview

I had the great pleasure of working on this frame with Jan Lewandoski.  The west monitor barn was constructed in 1903 by Uziel Whitcomb.  The barn is home to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.  Jan was given the task of moving and restoring the frame.  Many other contractors and members of VYCC contributed to the finish work of the barn after the frame restoration was completed.  The barn measures fifty-four feet wide by seventy-five feet long and almost eighty feet to the cupola.  This barn was dismantled and moved back from the road.  Due to years of neglect and a soft, local slate roof that hadn’t held up well, this barn was in horrible shape.  Only about fifteen percent of the old timbers were able to be used in their original locations, most of which are in the monitor.  The original builders of this frame were true masters of square rule joinery, among the best I have seen.  The hundred year old tenons were cut as smooth as glass.  Each tenon in this frame showed a knicker mark at two and one quarter inches from the shoulder.  This is evidence of the use of a rabbet plane with a knicker blade.  One of the reasons that I love restoration work is for just this sort of opportunity to see evidence of what kind of tools were used and how.

The studs and braces in this frame had only stub tenons that were not pegged.  The purlin and top plates extended several feet past the gable ends.  The plates were cut to a taper with flashing covering the end grain of the timbers.  The framing of this barn is quite different than that of the neighboring monitor barn to the east.  Different scarf joints were used and the purlin system was also done in a different style.  The opportunity to work on such a grand structure was humbling for me and a real highlight of my career.

-Seth Kelley

Project Pictures

Monitor barn, Richmond, VT
Restored west monitor with local clapboards and slate roofing.

Restored west monitor with local clapboards and slate roofing.
Tie beam end showing drawbore layout marks.

Tie beam end showing drawbore layout marks.
Setting the upper monitor bents.  We found this photo on the VYCC web site.

Setting the upper monitor bents. We found this photo on the VYCC web site.
Later that same day as darkness set in.

Later that same day as darkness set in.
View of purlin plate before assembly. All scarf joints had one centered bolt and four wedged pegs.  This photo was also found on the VYCC site.

View of purlin plate before assembly. All scarf joints had one centered bolt and four wedged pegs. This photo was also found on the VYCC site.
Floor joist sit atop of the tie beam.

Floor joist sit atop of the tie beam.
Free tenon in girt. Below the free tenon is an orignal scarf joint to the bottom of the post.

Free tenon in girt. Below the free tenon is an orignal scarf joint to the bottom of the post.
Flying in roof sections.  This photo came from the VYCC web site.

Flying in roof sections. This photo came from the VYCC web site.
This photo came from the VYCC web site.

This photo came from the VYCC web site.
This photo came from the VYCC web site.

This photo came from the VYCC web site.
Purlin post are supported by two braces making it a king post truss.Which helps stop the tie beam from deflecting from the roof load.

Purlin post are supported by two braces making it a king post truss.Which helps stop the tie beam from deflecting from the roof load.
Now that's a whole lot of wood.

Now that's a whole lot of wood.
Studs have a two inch stub tenon.

Studs have a two inch stub tenon.
All plates extended past the gable to form the overhang.

All plates extended past the gable to form the overhang.
East monitor.

East monitor.
East monitor with missing  high drive doors.

East monitor with missing high drive doors.
We restored the west barn frame over at the east barn.

We restored the west barn frame over at the east barn.
High drive from the east monitor barn.

High drive from the east monitor barn.
Steep bracing in the stanchion of the east monitor barn.

Steep bracing in the stanchion of the east monitor barn.


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