Cornfields spread out to the east, the Berkshire Hills rise on the horizon. A dirt road leads to a 200-year old farmhouse. Behind it towers a barn so tall, its roof so steep, one can’t help but think of the prow of a ship. Step inside and the magic really begins. Rafters soar high above beams cut by the broad axes of hardy men long gone. Little wonder that the medieval cathedral and the Dutch barn share the same architectural DNA.
The Circa 1799 Barn was born in the Mohawk Valley and began its second life in Ancramdale, just two hours north of Manhattan, in 2001. In its first incarnation it must have filled the local farmers with awe (and perhaps a little envy). In its new home it’s been doing just that for all who gather there for weddings, concerts, and fundraisers, or just to stand and gawk.
The Circa 1799 Barn has hosted fundraisers, square dances, rock bands and chamber orchestras. It’s been the site of speeches and scholarly talks, poetry readings and guided tours. It’s been graced by a congressman and a governor (who suddenly became a former governor) . But to me the barn’s most honored guests were the men who built it and the generations who labored within its walls. You can still see the names of some of them written across the beams. If you stand in there on a quiet afternoon you can almost hear them unloading the wagons, feeding and watering the cows and horses, maybe even debating the merits of their new president, Thomas Jefferson. To stand within the Circa 1799 Barn is to stand within the sweep of history.
Images from The Circa 1799 Barn
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