Restoring a classic timberframe barn.
For starters, the timbers, the rafters, the roof sheeting, and the braces are all solid oak. In fact I'm pretty sure it's made entirely of old growth white oak, which is one of North America's most rot resistant hardwood species. (Look at the quarter sawn patterns on the rafters and braces in the photograph at the right!) The barn is also a genuine dutch-style timber frame (i.e. 4 posts per bent, 3 aisles), of excellent craftsmanship, most likely built by German immigrants or early descendants given the date and location of the barn. It's had a good roof on it since it was built, as there is practically no water damage to any of the interior wood members. That's the good news.
Now for the not-so-good-but-correctable news... Some of the timbers will need to be remade due to abuse and thoughtless remodeling by previous owners over the years. For instance, each of the classic-dutch tie-beams between the tallest two posts of each bent were removed many years ago to allow for installation of a hay trolley on the ridge beam. Surprisingly, the barn has suffered no distortion from that modification. But when the hay trolley was installed, the farmers got serious about storing tons of hay on the second floor, and several floor joists were warped or broken as a result. (When the barn was originally built, hay was probably stored loose, not in dense bales.) Also, 3 of the 24 posts will need some rework because the bottoms of them were hastily repaired to remedy decay at the foundation intersection.
Finally, I noticed that one of the posts was snapped clean in two. When I inquired about it, I was told that eagerness to dismantle the barn spurred someone to tie a cable to their new 3/4 ton truck and tug on the barn. The truck gently pulled a wheely and the barn wouldn't budge. So the driver backed up to allow slack in the line and got a run at the effort. Fortunately for the driver, the airbags did not deploy, but the lone post snapped, leaving the rest of the barn standing as if nothing had happened. Now that's a testament to the integrity of German timber framed barns built of white oak. This one is surely worth restoring.
The two story barn is currently 50 feet long (6 bents with 10 feet between each bent), but it could be easily shortened in 10 foot increments to say 40 or 30 feet. It is 32 feet wide, with the aisles spaced 12, 8, and 12 feet. The frame could serve as the basis for an awesome shop, garage, cabin, modest house, house addition, or of course a great livestock barn. I would love to put it on our farm, but we already have 5 barns... though none nearly as nice as this one!
SAD UPDATE TO THIS STORY....
The barn was burned down this week... a piece of history (and a lot of good white oak timber!), lost to lunacy.