Moving the old Dutch Barn

Workers who braved bad weather to move old beams and bricks from state Sen. John Bonacic’s home to the Kiersted House.

It’s amazing what can happen when you ask for help. In the case of the Saugerties Historical Society and the restoration of the old Dutch barn at the Kiersted House, it resulted in a $10,000 federal grant to put a roof on it, and a load of old beams and siding from a state Senator.

“We needed a roof for the old barn,” explained village historian Marjorie Block, who is in charge of the barn restoration project.

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“So I wrote a grant request asking for money from a “community facility” grant administered by the USDA,” she said. “I was able to show that the Kiersted House is a community facility, and that the historical society uses it for a number of community events. It was the only way I could think of to get the necessary money to put a roof on the barn, because there just is no historical grant money out there right now.”

The $10,000 the historical society received in the grant was used to hire a professional to come in and put a roof on the barn.

“Folks from the Bruderhof community had been helping work on the barn,” Block said, “and we hired someone that they had used to help them in the past.”

Then came the involvement of a state Senator – John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope. Town Supervisor Kelly Myers, who is involved with helping out the society, explained that Block called Bonacic’s office to see if there might be any money for the restoration project. He told them that there wasn’t, but that he just happened to have a bunch of old beams from a barn and that they should come down and have a look and take what they needed.

“I’ve been collecting wood from old barns for more than 40 years,” Bonacic explained. “A farm that was near me had an old Dutch barn that was going to be torn down, so I asked for the material,” he said. “It was in great shape, and I just loved the historical value of it.”

Bonacic used much of the material to build a barn addition onto his home, and stored the rest in an old barn he had restored on his property. “It’s been sitting in there for about 35 years,” he said, with a laugh.

Responding to Bonacic’s invitation, Block, Myers and long-time historical society member Barbara Budik piled into a car and drove to the senator’s home.

Budik was formerly employed by the Solite Company, on whose property the Saugerties old Dutch barn was located. After some negotiations several years ago, Solite agreed to let the society have the barn, which society members and volunteers disassembled and transported to the Kiersted House, where it is currently being resurrected.

When the trio arrived at the senator’s Mount Hope home, they found a treasure trove in his old barn.

“Most of the stuff dated back to more than 200 years ago,” Bonacic said. “I was just so happy that someone would be able to make use of the stuff I had left, and they were welcome to it all.”

But how to get it back to Saugerties?

While the town government has been interested in the barn restoration project, it just hasn’t had money to put toward it, Myers said.

So she called up Doug Myer, town highway department supervisor, and asked if he could help. Myer put together a crew with a truck and sent them down to Bonacic’s place.

While the women waited for the crew to get to Mount Hope, Block decided to explore the barn further, and stumbled across more than a thousand old bricks. “When I saw that they said Walsh on the side, I was stunned,” Block said.

The old Walsh brickworks were once located in Glasco and made bricks by hand about 100 years ago. “And here they were in this barn,” Block said.

Bonacic donated the bricks to the group as well. “There was just so much old stuff in the barn, I was happy to get rid of most of it,” Bonacic laughed.

The highway department crew loaded up the truck, with the help of the three women and Bonacic, and brought the material back to Saugerties, where they enlisted the aid of Greg Chorvas, town buildings and grounds supervisor. He sent over a crew with a Bobcat front loader, which made easy work of unloading the truck.

“It was really a team effort,” Myers said.

Now volunteers are needed to help put the siding on the barn so it can be closed up before winter hits.

Anyone with some basic carpentry skills or who might like to learn some is asked to email Block at harry39a@aol.com.

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