‘History in the making’: Raising of historic Buckland barn underway after restoration
|Published: 11-23-2023 2:50 PM
BUCKLAND — Piece by piece, the historic Wilder Homestead on Route 112 is taking shape again.
Residents gathered on Tuesday to celebrate the post-restoration assembly for the circa 1798 barn they claim is one the most unique in New England. Assembly is expected to be complete by the new year.
“I’ve been honored to be here a couple of times to see the progress, to see the work, to see the traditions coming back,” said state Sen. Paul Mark, D-Becket. “I am hopeful for the future, for people to gather to come have events, for school kids to learn about local history and woodworking.”
For the better part of 16 years, the Buckland Historical Society has worked toward restoring the barn. A capital campaign with the goal of raising $500,000 is only $50,000 short as fundraising continues. One anonymous donor contributed $75,000.
Of the money raised, $75,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was allocated by former Sen. Adam Hinds. However, organizers say the funds were caught up in bureaucratic hoops until Mark helped the Historical Society get the money.
“Paul Mark got us some big levers and liberated [the ARPA funds],” said Buckland Historical Society President Michael McCusker. “That money will help make this thing happen.”
Organizers indicated they plan to work with the state in hopes of getting more money for the project’s next phase in the next fiscal year.
“We will go back to the state government and try to fight for a little more funding,” Mark said.
Nearly a year ago, the Historical Society began removing all the artifacts that were housed in the barn. They are now being stored at five privately owned barns across Buckland. From there, contractors and specialists, led by architect and Project Manager Jack Sobon, took all 208 pieces of the barn apart and inspected each for repair or replacement due to rot.
Contractors dug a new hole in the ground for the foundation and poured concrete to make footings and a frost wall. They will eventually build a new barn floor with a threshing bay — where wheat berries are removed from the stalk and chaff. There will also be a designated room focused on traditional weaving.
Cruckfather LLC, a local timber framing company, used lumber from the hill behind the property for the project. The company determined about 65% of the wood in the barn needed to be replaced or repaired due to rot.
Tuesday marked the first day workers started putting the beams back in place. As they raised the first piece, the crowd clapped, cheered and took photos of the momentous occasion.
Sobon noted this way of raising the barn piece by piece — instead of the textbook vision of a barn raising where the entire town helps put it up in large sections — is more historically accurate for a barn built in the 18th century. Mark noted in his time as a legislator, Tuesday was his first barn raising.
“We have been working on this for 16 years,” said Polly Anderson, secretary of the Buckland Historical Society. “The rest is history in the making.”
Donations to the capital campaign can be sent to P.O. Box 88, Buckland, MA 01338. Inquiries and requests for presentations can be directed to Buckland Historical Society President Michael McCusker at 413-834-3477. A video detailing the restoration project can be found at bit.ly/3w27iIY.
Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or email@example.com.