Building Review by Chris Kuehnel October 2005 (page under construction as of October 31). This is the first draft of the first draft...... Click on individual photos to see the full size image.
The North Manty Farm includes a house, 2 story chicken coop, silo, dairy/hay barn, concrete block loafing shed, and 2 story frontier barn.
I was asked to review each of the farm buildings (other than the house) with regards to stabilization or restoration, historic background or ages, to give opinions on the challenges of each structure, how the owner might make the most of each building, and the priorities for maintenance. We did not have input from the owners of any specific ideas of how they might use the buildings, or what their 'farm lifestyle' goals would include.
The first building is the chicken coop. This unit is built in to the hillside with an almost ground level entrance to the second floor on the uphill side, and a ground level entrance to the lower level on the downhill side. Most of this building is downhill I'm sorry to say. The concrete block foundation is severely cracked and bowed on all four sides, the roof is very leaky, the floor is springy from soft joists and lack of support. The 2nd floor ceiling is insulated with straw, which is no doubt wet most of the year. Manure accumulations at both levels have caused a lot of rot. This building is unique in that the west and north side walls are built of vertical 6x6 timbers tight against each other. These are used cutoff timbers but appear to be an original part of the fabric, tho it is possible they were used more recently to strengthen and insulate the building. The basement of concrete block was probably built in the 1970's, the upper floor level portion was probably built in the 1940's? This unit has been redone numerous times! It could perhaps be used again for chickens on the upper floor, and hogs on the lower level, but it is just a matter of time before the unit collapses and it would be better if no humans or animals were in at that time! Best solution? Sorry to say it is the bulldozer with death by burial.
A poured concrete small (12'X25'?) silo sits in the midst of the buildings. It appears to be in good and stabile condition. While most would have it removed, it might be a nice touch to keep it for great silo singing, or we have seen several people set them up as yoga and meditation 'sanctuaries'. They have very interesting sound and space characteristics you may want to consider.
The circa 1910 dairy/hay barn has collapsed just before our visit. About all that is salvageable with this structure is some of the timbers. the building suffered from water leakage for many years and many of the viewable timber elements are well rotted. Extracting the timbers from a structure such as this (with the roof resting on it) can be done from below but it is extremely dangerous, especially without knowledge of the original structure design or the strength of the remaining components. Our suggestion: snag out timbers you can see from the outside with a cable, bury the rest of the barn into the hillside using a contractor with a track backhoe. Alternate plan: extract and haul out the wood, hay, and roofing portions and use the remaining stone foundation as the base for a 'modern' truss roof. If the owner is looking for space for livestock, this solution would provide an interesting approach keeping the stone as an aesthetic component, but the demolition expenses would likely be higher than the savings of a new foundation or wall structure.
The 1950's vintage concrete block loafing shed has numerous major cracks and shifts in the poured floors and walls, probably due to improper compaction when the fill was put in for the building. Roof looks good, doors are missing, block windows cracked. Cleaned up, this building would be useful more or less as is, perhaps for 10 to 20 beef, 50 sheep, goats, or 50-200 hogs if the owner is looking for a small farm livestock experience. There is a fairly low ceiling but the south doors could be redone as loadout chutes for manure when used with a skid steer loader. Installing doors and mudjacking the SW corner concrete floor would make it usable, owner could then do masonry repairs as time or funds were available, or a good block mason could have things looking pretty good within a few days. Ventilating fans round it out for production usage!
Now, the fun part! On top of the hill, generally east and perhaps 200' from the house, sits a small and very nice frontier two story timber barn. This all hewn 1870's building may have been moved from an earlier location and/or the grade has been changed since it was put where it is now. In spite of an appealing 'double wind brace' solution, is it racking quite a bit to the north, because the north of the building has sunk 12 to 18" due to a rotted (missing) sill beam. It seems the north side grade was changed at some point, piling soil above the foundation and causing the sill rot. For many years this sill was in contact with the ground, and as a pine beam it is now completely gone. In spite of that the building seems stabile. It's west facing doors are missing, allowing the weather in from that direction. One side has a loft area, probably used as both a hay mow and granary. A great set of stairs sits atop a heavy plank floor leading to the second level. Most of the roof is in good condition, tho the SE corner has been peeled back and is leaking a lot. So far those leaks don't appear to have caused other problems. A nice stone foundation can be seen on two sides.
I see two options for this barn for getting it back to level and full strength. What seems at first like the easiest is to jack up the sunken posts, excavate out the space where the sill was, and reinstall it, putting stone back under it. A few hours with a skid steer could change the grade and give a new life to the building. There was only one area I noted interior failed joints, at the purlin plate (see pic).
While it seems extreme, it may be easier (and thus actually less expensive) to remove the roof, dismantle the entire building, clean up the grade and foundation, and reassemble the building on the same position (or move it closer to the house?).