2015 - Volume #39, Issue #3, Page #24[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Tractor Club Saves City Barn
“The estimate for the work was $300,000,” recalls Larry McPhail, club president at the time. “With community donations and volunteer help, we did it for $15,000, not counting a new roof.”
The barn was part of a 236-acre bequest to the city by farmer Hans Berthusen, more than 70 years ago. The club has a long history of leasing park space for member’s collections of steam engines, sawmills and tractors. The club also sponsors an annual 4-day show in the park.
The barn design has a “broken hip” roof with a drive-in basement on one side and a drive-in, second story hayloft on the other. More common in the East and Midwest, it is considered quite rare in the Puget Sound region. Part of it was built in 1887 with a larger section completed in 1901. The roof stands 50 ft. tall, and the barn measures 125 ft. long and 60 ft. wide.
“The city agreed to give us storage space in the barn when we needed it,” says McPhail. “We said if you give us the supplies, we’ll supply the labor, so the city budgeted $50,000, three times what we ended up needing.”
The entire project took 5 years, starting with a concrete foundation for the south end of the barn, something it had never had. After raising the barn and clearing room, club members used a big loader to push 3,800-lb. concrete blocks in place.
“It was sitting on nothing,” recalls McPhail. “It was rotting and settling into the ground. The engineer’s plans called for 20 tons of concrete, but we used 100 tons for the 8-ft. high, 2-ft. wide and 60-ft. long foundation.”
Upper levels were straightened and tightened up with the help of cables. Perhaps the biggest challenge was replacing supports for the oldest portion. It faced east and west at the end of the larger and newer barn, which ran north and south.
“The posts that held up the main ridge pole had rotted away,” says McPhail. “We were going to replace them with 5 telephone poles. The engineer’s plans were to cut them in half to bring them in and then splice them back together.”
Club members had a better, more adventuresome idea. They figured out a way to raise the poles up and bring them in through the old hay door under the roof end.
“We took part of the old roof out and bolted the peak to the poles,” says McPhail. “We finished by helping to put on a new roof and painting the barn.”
When the project was finished, the city park board chairman suggested information on the project be retained. The publisher of the Lynden Tribune did it one better. With the help of club members, he gathered all available articles, including a history of the Berthusens, photos, and other documents into a book.
The 72-page Hans Berthusen’s Barn book costs $25 and is available from McPhail. Normally mail orders require $3 shipping.
“We still have copies, and FARM SHOW readers who order it will get free shipping,” says McPhail. “Proceeds are going to help pay for a community building in the park.”
The restored barn is an antique machinery buff’s paradise. As planned, the club has storage space in the lower level of the barn for wagons and other equipment. The hayloft is filled with the original owner’s antique farm equipment and other donated equipment.
“When the barn was restored, local Boy Scouts identified every piece of equipment, mostly horse-drawn, and built and attached signs to them,” says McPhail. “It is all very informative.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Larry McPhail, 2855 H Street Rd., Blaine, Wash. 98230 (ph 360 366-5548; email@example.com).
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