Great architects like Frank Lloyd Wright attempted to create buildings that tucked into their environments, becoming an asset to nature, rather than an eyesore. But some of the most successful efforts at merging buildings and nature were far less subtle. In the rolling green fields along country roads, the barns of New England stand out like sore thumbs. Some are even painted blood red, but these giant structures also meld into our pastoral history and invite reflection upon the deep roots of the partnership between people and the Earth.
Many of these monuments are not aging well, and oftentimes the choice locations they inhabit are eyed jealously by developers. This reality has spurred some innovative thinking in ways to preserve the old barns of the state by careful restoration and by finding new uses for them — sometimes very unusual uses.
Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, says she has seen them converted into everything from farm stands to auto repair shops to home entertainment centers. “One family actually put a small movie theatre in one,” she notes.
Her organization, which is dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings, communities and landscapes, has planned a New Hampshire Old House and Barn Expo to take place at the Center of N.H.-Radisson Hotel on Elm Street in Manchester this March.
“It’s a one-stop-shopping trade show that helps old house owners and enthusiasts with appropriate and affordable solutions,” she explains. The show will feature knowledgeable suppliers of repair and restoration products and services, and provide valuable ideas from hourly live talks and demonstrations.
Topics include how to get your restoration started, window repair, paint color, historic landscapes, timber framing, barn repair, kitchen and bath designs for old houses and much more. New vendors and updated educational sessions about energy efficiency and interiors arts were added to address your needs.
“We hope the Expo serves as an event for homeowners considering repairs, restoration or remodeling projects as well as people who are fans of traditional arts like stone wall building, stenciling or timber framing,” says Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. “These projects can be so intimidating, but the Expo might set their minds at ease and help them find the right resources.”
“Those who invest in older homes and other historic buildings are the heroes of the historic preservation movement,” says Goodman. “One by one, as they repair an old window, reshingle a roof, rebuild an old stone wall or fix a barn sill, they are preserving a piece of New Hampshire’s history and contributing to the character of our communities.” NH
Want To Learn More
New Hampshire Old House and Barn Expo
A program of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance
Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25, 2007. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Center of N.H.-Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm Street, Manchester.
More Info: (603) 224-2281 or www.nhpreservation.org
One Success Story on Video
See how a historic structure was saved from the wrecking ball by a combination of community involvement and influence in this professionally produced film, produced by Accompany of Concord. www.accompany.com
Buy the Book
The UNH Cooperative Extension Service has created a great resource book filled with pictures of barns and a guide to identifying and preserving them.