It’s incredible what can happen in just a few short months! How did the East Monitor Barn restoration team navigate the statewide flooding in July? What happened when they uncovered buried treasure at the restoration site? What thoughts did they share in a Stuck in Vermont feature? We get into all of that (and more!) in this July and August construction recap.
Timber Framer’s Guild Workshop
During the week of July 10th, 12 volunteers and four instructors from the Timber Framer’s Guild joined the team at the barn to help out with the restoration and hone their framing skills. Some folks were local, while others came from farther afield, including British Columbia, Virginia, and Michigan.
Together, they removed and labeled posts in the east wall for repair and replacement and helped craft and install new sills. The volunteers came with a wide range of experience —one volunteer was a VYCC alum who went from never having used a circular saw to cutting scarf joints (a method of joining two beams end-to-end).
The Great Vermont Flood of 2023 (as some are calling it) hit the state during the workshop week. The VYCC campus and the barn were thankfully both spared from floodwaters, but the torrential rain and road closures posed a significant challenge. Despite these hurdles, the Guild Members persevered and made a significant contribution toward the overall timber framing repairs. Between restoration partners and Guild Members, roughly two thirds of the of the total timber repairs were completed by mid-July!
Eva Sollberger of Seven Days and Stuck in Vermont joined during the Guild week to film a wonderful feature about the barn restoration. She delayed the video release due to the flooding, but you can now check it out here (if you haven’t already).
Concrete Removal (Plus Buried Treasure!)
Bill and Billy, the father-son excavation team, were back for a few weeks to jackhammer the remaining concrete in the basement. Between quarrying, production, and transportation, concrete is one of the largest embodiments of carbon pollution amongst the barn’s materials. But once again, Eliot and Dan are taking care to recycle and reuse. The old concrete was sent to McCullough’s Crushing in Berlin, Vermont, where a big jaw crusher will mash it into softball sized chunks that will be reused back here at the barn for fill behind the North foundation wall to prevent future movement.
On top of doing a bang-up job, Bill and Billy discovered buried treasure. They unexpectedly found a huge, original granite threshold while excavating around the main entrance! It’s a hand-split beauty measuring 14’x2’. The team changed the floor height slightly so they can incorporate the threshold back into the restored barn.
Out with the old concrete and in with the new. Haskins & Associates poured new interior footings upon which new interior posts will sit. They also poured interior frost walls that will protect the barn from heaving and shifting during freeze/thaw cycles. Finally, they created concrete walls against the inside of the stone foundation for added structural support.
Stone Masons joined in mid-July for the intricate task of repairing barn’s stone foundation. They repaired the north wall from the top three feet down, re-laying stone to correct the bow that developed over the years from the downhill pressure on the barn. They also reassembled the southwest, southeast, and west corners after the concrete pour was complete. They’re now hard at work “as we speak,” repairing the remainder of the stone foundation.
Ongoing Timber Repairs & Next Steps
Dan and Eliot have both been hard at work on a pair of door posts to frame the main entrance and sit atop the original granite threshold. Besides the practicality of this step in the restoration, we love the symbolism of Dan and Eliot each having ownership over an entryway post.
Plus, they welcomed VYCC Build Crew Leader Jenn Greig to spontaneously help with repairs while she was on a break week. She cut and chiseled braces that will go from the repaired posts up to a beam in the doorway, and used a machine called a chain mortiser to cut mortises (a type of joint). With a combination of prior experience and instruction from Eliot and Dan, Jenn absolutely rocked it.
We at VYCC are wildly impressed (but not surprised) with how well the restoration is moving along. It feels like the barn was just lifted, but it’ll be time to lower it back onto the newly-restored and stabilized foundation before we know it! That’s slated for the end of this month, so stay tuned.