May 31, 2017
The reconstruction of the Nevius Dutch barn at Rockingham is a complete and accurate reconstruction of this threatened building type. Prior to being dismantled the barn was threatened by neglect. After being dismantled the barn remained in storage for over a decade until the project started in 2013. The reconstruction of the barn included re-erecting the repaired frame on a new concrete slab. The frame was then enclosed with new clapboard siding, traditionally fabricated board and batten doors and a cedar shake roof. A new wood floor was installed over the slab and lighting, fire detection and infrared heaters were installed to provide a three-season space.
Originally located on Middlebush Road in Franklin Township, the Rockingham Dutch barn had been anglicized prior to being dismantled, meaning its side aisle walls were raised and the roof ridge was rotated ninety degrees. When it was dismantled, all of the original main H-bents were salvaged along with any original side aisle timbers and rafter plates that could be re-used. Additionally, timbers were retained if they contained information, such as mortises, that provided evidence of the original configuration and evolution of the barn. This included some floor joists which, although they were too deteriorated to be re-used, were actually original wall posts that provided valuable information on the original construction. These timbers were critical in understanding the wall framing at the aisles, as well as the height of the side walls which defines the overall geometry of the barn.
As mentioned above, the original H-bents were entirely preserved and re-used, with the repairs of these primary timbers being mostly concealed. Due to the advanced deterioration of the frame when it was dismantled and the alterations resulting from changing the roof orientation, many of the secondary timbers and side aisle walls were beyond salvaging. These timbers were reproduced from rough-sawn white oak; the result being that the frame accurately represents the original barn frame, but on closer inspection the replacement timbers are clearly distinguishable as dating to the reconstruction. The original rafters, lost when the roof was changed, were reproduced from douglas fir as full-length, tapered rafters approximately 30-feet long.
The long-term goal of the Rockingham State Historic Park and the Rockingham Association is to preserve the Rockingham Museum and further the understanding and interpretation of the entire property as an eighteenth-century farmstead as it might have appeared when Washington lived on the property in 1783. Following the relocation of the house to the site and the reconstruction of select outbuildings, the barn was the next building to be constructed to advance this effort and more completely interpret the site. At the same time, the barn provides critical three-season space for larger group events, which cannot be accommodated at the house. This allows for a greater variety of events at the site and opens it up to larger numbers of visitors, enhancing its visibility to the public.
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