18th-century barn at Kiersted House a happening place

A Heritage Folk Music Concert

A Heritage Folk Music Concert at the barn (Photo by David Gordon)

Since its completion last year, the old Dutch barn at the Kiersted House has become a beehive of activity, and already been renamed. Now known as the Dutch Barn Art and Cultural Heritage Gallery, it’s played host to a number of weddings, art exhibits, musical performances and an art auction.

Marge Block, village historian and the overseer of the barn and historical society, just shakes her head when she talks about how the popularity of the barn has taken off and captured the imagination of local residents.

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“Don’t say it’s finished,” Block cautioned. “We’re still doing things to it, it’s an old building and work will always be taking place here.”

In the short year since the mostly completed barn was opened to the public, the Saugerties Area Chamber of Commerce has held events there, there have been art shows, there, local Scout troops have toured the barn and learned of its history and it’s become a wedding site.

“It’s been great,” Block says of the weddings. “We’re almost booked for the spring wedding season.”

Couples looking to wed in a rural barn find the Dutch barn both a fantastic location and a bargain. Block said for $1,200 the barn is the couple’s for the day. The couple is responsible for catering, set up and break down, and cleaning up, Block said. Although for more money, the historical society can take care of everything.

“This is a pretty unique site,” Block says, “and most of the weddings we’ve had and those that are booked for the coming months are locals who have grown up in Saugerties or nearby.”

“While we’re not getting rich from use of the barn,” Block says, “the money is being used to help support the many services and events the historical society presents.

The barn came to the historical society through the efforts of Barbara Budik who worked for local company Solite, which had a deteriorating barn on its site that it wanted to get rid of.

Block said the Kiersted House was built in the 1700s and the barn was from the 1700s and would have been the type of barn on the house property. During an archeology dig at the house evidence was found that at one time there was a barn there, so the society with Budik’s help got Solite to sell the structure to the society.

State Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, got the society a $10,000 grant to help with the purchase and also supplied some of the beams from a barn on his property to help with the putting the barn together once it was disassembled at the Solite property and reassembled at the society’s Main Street site.

After hundreds of hours from volunteers and local craftspeople, the barn was completed and ready to open for business.

In addition to weddings, and art exhibits, Block said there will be presentations by local speakers about local history, a garden show is slated for later this spring and musical events will also be scheduled this summer. The barn will also be part of this year’s Sawyer Motors’ Car Show by hosting a pig roast and barbecue during the day. American Legion Post 72 is already talking about holding an event at the barn as well.

Historical society members are talking with Saugerties school officials looking for ways to incorporate the history of the Kiersted House and barn into curriculums.

“We want to make the barn and Kiersted House a hub for the community, and all of these events are helping give new hope for our old site,” Block said.

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