Thursday, April 15, 2010
A Piece of American History
I have long been an admirer of barns. They are stately and picturesque, creating strong silhouettes against the sky. I study them and try to picture their prior life, housing dairy cattle or working horses or perhaps even storing the farmer’s crops for the year. Some of them even had working functions, such as the round barns with special designs. I once visited Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington. Situated on that vast farmstead was a barn structure designed by President Washington himself. It was a round barn with two floors. The wheat harvest was forked into the top floor so a horse or mule could be situated in such a way as to walk the floor for hours on end, the weight of its hooves effectively separating the wheat grain from the straw. The kernels of wheat, being heavier than the straw, dropped to the floor below for collection. I found it to be a simply amazing concept.
Barns all across America each have a story of their own to tell. Many of them have a rich history, being built decades ago by the handiwork of rural neighbors. Their different designs and functions are fascinating, especially considering the era in which they were built. Some of them are held together with wooden pegs and square nails, and rafters were raised by horses and ropes. Quite a feat when you consider the steel beam buildings of today that are constructed by cranes and welders.
I am fascinated by all of this. It saddens me immensely to see these great reminders of our agricultural past falling into disrepair, and it’s common to see them crumbling into piles of rubble. If someone with a huge pocketbook and a lot of time had the desire, a barn can be restored to its former grandeur. Sadly, not many of these once-stately icons fall into such a lucky fate.
One way to preserve history and admire the character of a barn is to reclaim the barn wood and transform it into something smaller scale and more functional. Particularly for those folks who admire old barns and would like to have a piece of American history as part of their own interior design, barnwood furniture is a wonderful way to add character to a home. A barn wood bed or barn wood living room set can evoke the spirit of the innovative American pioneer. You can bring the story into your home to be told for several more generations. By purchasing reclaimed barn wood furniture, you can help to keep American history alive and well.