After three months defying gravity atop 164,000 pounds of steel I-beams, the roughly 500,000-pound East Monitor Barn touched down onto a restored foundation not long ago! In between our last update and lowering the barn, the restoration team completed finishing touches. 

The stone masons crafted a foundation that’s as sturdy as it is beautiful. Meanwhile, Dan and Eliot repaired more timbers and ensured that the entire massive structure was properly aligned (which it hadn’t been since roughly 1950!). Plus, the project got some fun new ink from VT Digger and the Burlington Free Press (check that out at the bottom of this post).  


For decades, the barn wasn’t sending load down correctly through its various support structures. The downhill pressure and lean meant that some timbers bore the brunt of the barn’s weight, while others bore very little. The image above shows how certain timbers were under so much pressure that the wood was visibly compressed!

The restoration team used a couple of surprisingly simple yet effective methods to gauge alignment. No fancy high-tech machines or computer models needed! They followed horizontal strings as they worked to keep the foundation and timbers in alignment.

They also dangled plumb bobs from the upper corners of the barn to measure any remaining forward lean. Dan and Eliot knew they were on track once the bobs hung an equidistant 1.5” from the corners. 


With the barn sporting a solid foundation, sturdy timbers, and right angles for the first time in decades, it was time to lower it back from its perch. Lou Nop and the team from New England Building Movers were back on the scene in late September to do the honors for this pivotal stage in the restoration.  

The lowering process was essentially a reversal of how the barn was raised.  Nop and team placed jacks back into the wooden cribbing towers and lifted the barn slightly higher, allowing them to remove some of the cribbing. Then they used the jacks to lower the building until the entire massive structure sat firmly on the new foundation. They removed the remaining I-beams and cribbing, and with that, the East Monitor Barn was stable and back on earth!  

Next Steps

Chuck Wolanin, a former colleague of Dan and Eliot’s and an instructor at the Timber Framers Guild workshop, will begin a variety of construction tasks, including adding wall studs and sheathing at the basement level. Meanwhile, Dan and Eliot will use a tool called a come along winch (that can apply three tons of force) to correct for a bit of residual lean. Beyond that, the activity at the barn will be considerably quieter over the winter months.

The hustle and bustle on campus is about to slow down as well, as VYCC crews wrap up their last week of 2023 programming. Corps Members have been hard at work all season, right here on the farm in Richmond and in all corners of Vermont. With each pivotal moment in the East Monitor Barn’s restoration, we get closer to the reality of providing a renewed space for young people to learn, take action, and build community. Stay tuned to learn more about what comes next.  


Keen on even more East Monitor Barn news? Check out this recent Burlington Free Press video and VT Digger’s coverage from earlier this month. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *