With Your Coffee


Dreaming of warmer days and spring trips like those to Quebec City. Seen here: Hotel du Parlement. 

Happy weekend, everyone! Happy April! It’s snowing in Burlington, and, no, that is not an April Fool’s joke. How I wish it were. However, the snow is prettier than the barren trees and patches of brown dirt that are usually here this time of year. I suppose snow is okay for another day. A few reading links for the weekend:

  • This 12 stall barn was remodeled into a home. How did they do it? Basically, gutting it. While pretty, the new residence does not retain any historic integrity. What do you think? I was hoping they’d keep some of the stalls for something! (A pantry? A closet? A powder room?) And the doors. Sigh.
  • Are you an alum of the UVM Historic Preservation Program? If you haven’t heard about the 40th Anniversary Celebration on October 13-15, 2017, be sure to check out uvmhpalum.wordpress.com for the latest updates. It’s the perfect excuse to come back to Burlington for a visit! Spread the word.
  • This time of year in Vermont makes me miss North Carolina. Spring is well settled in by now in the south. Vermont has another 3-4 weeks before the leaves start to sprout on the tree branches. I’d say spring comes to Burlington in early May.

I really need a new podcast. Any suggestions?


Five B Tour: Bikes, Bridges, Barns, Bakeries and Beer

Today’s post is written by Caitlin Corkins, a fellow UVM Historic Preservation alum, and a Stewardship Manager for Historic New England. Follow along for a fun bike tour. Thanks, Caitlin! 


By Caitlin Corkins

On Saturday, June 23 a group of ten intrepid bicyclists took to the road. Led by Bob McCullough, Associate Professor in the Historic Preservation program at the University of Vermont, this event was a fundraiser for the University’s Historic Preservation Alumni Association. More important, it was a chance to explore Vermont’s built environment on the roads between Montpelier and Moretown from a new perspective.

3. Bridge No. 304 of the Washington County Railroad, Montpelier – 1909 Pratt pin-connected through truss across the north branch of the Winooski River. Trains still cross this bridge today. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Vermont may be known for picturesque covered bridges, but the State has a wealth of historic metal truss bridges as well. Beginning in Montpelier, we learned about the history of these bridges, including developments in truss design from early pony trusses to later Warren and Pratt trusses, and developments in metallurgy from cast iron and wrought iron to rolled steel beams. The roads around the Winooski River, it turns out, are a perfect classroom.

The group admires the recently rehabilitated (2011) Taylor Street Bridge, Montpelier – 1929 Parker through truss across the Winooski River. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Three Mile Bridge, Berlin and Middlesex, 1928 Parker through truss across the Winooski River. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

We also learned about the State of Vermont’s Historic Bridge Program. Established in 1998, this program was formed to identify historic bridges around the state and come up with strategies for rehabilitating those that can continue to serve their intended use as well as adapting others for alternative transportation uses, or recreation or historic sites. The result is that these local landmarks dotting the Vermont landscape will continue to serve as physical reminders of the evolution of bridge design and use.

Crossing Bridge 303 of the Washington County Railroad, Montpelier – 1903 Two-span Pratt through truss across the Winooski River on foot. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Buckley Bridge, Moretown – 1928 reinforced concrete T-beam bridge carrying Vermont Route 100B across Downsville Brook. Reinforced concrete bridges supplanted metal truss bridges and will be the next type of bridges we’ll need to survey, evaluate, and advocate for. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

While riding along the scenic Town Highway 2 and Route 100B we also paused at several interesting barns, learning about developments in the dairy industry in Vermont through the physical evidence left behind, from Yankee Barns to Bank Barns, to Ground-Level Stable Barns and Free-stall Barns.

Three story gravity barn c. 1885 – Town Ayer Farm on Town Highway 2, Berlin. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Horse and Carriage barn, c. 1885 – Murray-Shepard Farm, Route 100B, Moretown. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Synonymous with Vermont’s image, farms and their built structures are unquestionably worth preserving. Thus, much like the State’s Historic Bridge Program aims to identify and advocate for historic bridges, a more recent effort by the State Historic Preservation Office, in partnership with the University of Vermont’s Historic Preservation Programs and preservation non-profits around the state, The Vermont Barn Census, aims to complete a comprehensive survey of barns around the state, laying the foundation for their preservation.

Panoramic view of the picturesque Ayer Farm, Berlin. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Not to leave out the other important B’s of the day, lunch was at the Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, well worth a stop, and we finished our twenty-five mile trek with well-deserved micro-brews at the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier. Biking, it turns out is a great way to explore the built environment around you. Not to mention good exercise.

Caitlin Corkins and Sarah Graulty (UVM HP class of 2008) on the open road in Moretown, Vermont.

Friday Links

Happy Friday! Here are some preservation related links from around the web:

Neon signs in New York City.

An excellent article about the value of sense of place (and historic preservation) from the Urban Land Institute.

Take advice from Sabra and change the [preservation] world with kindness. Write a letter to someone, a business, or an organization that has acted in favor of preservation.

How to preserve Auschwitz? (Thanks for the link, Adam.)

A barn collapses in Saratoga County, New York. (Thanks for the link, Luke.)

Wondering about the biggest snowstorms in history?

Need a summer field school? How about San Gemini, Italy Program – a 12 week summer course. (Thanks for the heads up, Andrew.)

Save America’s Treasures Grant Winners announced for 2010.

A winter sky is much different from a summer sky.

Field Trip to Keeseville, NY

The end of classes brought deadlines, finals, and a field trip for my preservation classmates and me. We piled into a UVM van with snacks, lunch, and rain jackets (most of us) + 2 cars and we were off to catch the Grand Isle ferry over to Plattsburgh, NY.

Route 2 on the way to the ferry. We were hoping to avoid whatever storm lingered.

Our first stop was the new home, and old mill complex, of the organization Adirondack Architectural Heritage. We had lunch overlooking the Ausable River.

Ausable River in Keeseville, NY

Next we were on our way to do some survey practice, as part of our Practice Methods class, but before that we stopped at the Keese Homestead to take a look at the amazing collection of barns and outbuildings. (If you will recall, our class is particularly interested in barns, thanks to our Vermont Barn Census projects.)  And for most of us, this turned out to be the best part of the day. The collection of buildings is astounding, especially the cow barn. The Keese Homestead is privately owned, but the owner (a friend of AARCH) was kind enough to give us a tour and allow us to take pictures. He and his wife have done their best to keep up the buildings and to understand their history.Without sharing the 50 0r so pictures I took that day, here are  few (well, less than 50 anyway):

The smokehouse.

A row of farm buildings, just a few.

The granary.

The ceiling of the granary: those planks are about two feet in width, talk about firs growth timber!

Looking out the granary window.

Beautiful hinges on one of the barns.

Another farm building on the property (and Jen).

The best barn on the property was an unsuspecting (large) cow barn. I don’t think these pictures will do it justice, but see if you can note the massive timbers. It was just such an incredible space. We spent the most time in here.

Inside the cow barn. Wow.

From the hayloft. A few of us climbed up the handmade ladder -- hand hewn, rounded pegs/steps through a middle post.

Again from the hayloft.

To give you an idea of the timber size.

On the other side of the barn, the cow stalls and troughs. Note the cemter floor, indicative of an improvement in technology and sanitation.

The cow troughs.

The Keese Homestead. We only explored the barns, but the house is spectacular as well.

And after the barns we headed over to Peru, NY to practice our survey skills. I did not take nearly as many pictures, however. Here are my two favorites:

Window on the restored (and still active) church in Peru.

Former industrial area in Peru that flooded and is waiting a return to use.

We were back in Burlington by mid evening, just in time for a final review. A wonderful field trip day.  For the record, Bob McCullough brings the best lunches and snacks.

Preservation Photos #31

Window of an early 19th century farm building found at the Keese Homestead in Keeseville, NY – part of our end of the semseter preservation field trip.

Preservation Photos #4


Townshend, VT

The interior of an agricultural building in need of tremendous repair, found along the backroads of Townshend, VT.

That’s a Barn!

Grafton, VT

Grafton, VT

As I mentioned, for one my graduate school classes, I (along with my 12 fellow classmates) am participating in the Vermont Barn Census. For our purposes it involves windshield surveys, which are just what the term sounds like. With maps, architectural guide books, notebooks, pencils, and cameras in hand, we plot out a route in our specified area (a Vermont town in our case) and drive the roads. When we see a barn we stop, snap a photograph, record the address and some other notes if necessary, occasionally talk to the property owner who is giving us an odd look, and moving on until we see another barn, or agriculture related buildings (i.e. equipment shed, ice house, milk house, sugar house, corn crib, etc.) Often we shout “that’s a barn!” when we see one in the distance, or we turn around to photograph the one we just caught out of the corner of our eyes.

Grafton, VT.

Grafton, VT.

Conducting a survey is an actual tool used by historic preservationists and architectural historians. It reminds me of the New Deal days when HABS started and crews spread across the country to document America’s built environment and shared heritage. Windshield surveying has its advantages and disadvantages, all of which would make for a good discussion. However, the justification for a windshield survey is to gather preliminary information on as much land as possible in order to evaluate which areas require in depth survey and further research.

Record keeping: making sure the addresses and photo images match.  (Photograph courtesy of Emily Morgan.)

Record keeping: making sure the addresses and photo images match. (Photograph courtesy of E. Morgan.)

Today is survey day #2 for Emily and me. We’ll leave early with coffee in hand and explore more of Vermont, hoping to find many barns. Last week we experienced just how many dirt roads are in Vermont, how beautiful of a state it is, how maps aren’t always accurate, and of course the many, many barns in Grafton, VT.

Technology often helps in survey, but not when the GPS cannot figure out our location!

Technology often helps in survey, but not when the GPS cannot figure out our location!

Not all barns are extant, so we have to record them to help figure out the rate of barn loss in Vermont.

Not all barns are extant, so we have to record them to help figure out the rate of barn loss in Vermont.

Expect more Barn Census posts this semester. In the meantime: check out the Vermont Barn Census.

Vermont Barn Census

Here in Vermont we love barns. Barns are symbols of the Vermont lifestyle that people live or at least envision. As my professor pointed out, barns are on the official highway road map. People picture big red barns amongst the rolling green hills.  However, agriculture is changing fast everywhere and that does not exclude Vermont. Ways of life are never immune to jumps and slips in technology and economy. Long winters wreak havoc on the historic structures and every year more are lost to the climate, to development, to lack of necessity, etc. How does one state go about documenting all of these barns and farm structures?

Meet the Vermont Barn Census, established by Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program, Historic Windsor’s Preservation Education Institute, Save Vermont Barns, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and Preservation Trust of Vermont with funding from Preserve America. The short version is this: volunteers across the state can visit the website, learn everything they need to start the survey, and then submit the information through the website. It’s an incredibly innovative way to involve the public’s help. Individuals, communities, historical societies, students, teachers, anyone is invited to assist on the census in hopes of, in the end, gathering a complete survey of Vermont barns in order to establish how many are standing, how many have fallen, and how the landscape has changed.

Insert the UVM’s Historic Preservation 206 class of Researching Historic Sites and Structures. As part of our class project, we are working on the census (and adding our own in class twist to research for other purposes). We’ll be out there photographing, recording, and later researching the barns and communities. Who doesn’t love a good barn? I’m psyched.

Across the country, my cousin Evan Robb, Project Manager of the Washington Rural Heritage project, informed me that Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation also has a Heritage Barns Project. I imagine many states have the same. Perhaps some could take a lesson from Vermont and enlist volunteers, if they do not already.

Do you live in Vermont? You can help! Join in the fun. The Vermont Barn Census “week” will be October 2 – October 12, which is supposed to be the peak of leaf season. (A good atmosphere always makes for good, fun work, but you can work on this project all year round.)