The Raising of the Barn

The barn was in total ruin. It is a large structure, measuring 26 feet by 66 feet on the outside, and over 25 feet high. It had never had a door over its large, West-facing opening (from whence the storms come). It had nothing more than a dirt floor and, when we found it, it had decaying hay filling up the South side.

Inside the barn

Walls were crumbling, especially over the opening (as you can see). And though not obvious at first, water had seeped in and damaged the columns supporting this large opening. The beam was itself rotting. The columns and beam had to be replaced.

We dug down into the floor of the barn about a foot or so, preparing it for its new floor. In doing so, we discovered an old earthenwork system of underground clay pipes. We have learned that over 20 years before we bought Le Cormier, a family from Poland owned Le Cormier and had used the barn to grow endive, a popular winter vegetable in France. The barn floor was covered with several feet of sand, kept wet. It seems that the terra cotta drainage system helped drain excess water away.

The entire roof had to come down. Only the timbers that formed the roof peak were saved. Everything else - cross timbers, rafters and laths - was replaced. The old slates, those that were remaining, were too fragile to keep. So a completely new roof was installed, which included a few slate-shaped pieces of glass arrayed as three skylights.

The rafters
The new roof slates The car entry

Inside, an old wall carving out about 25% of the grange on the North side, was retained. A new ceiling was built, enclosing that section. This room would become our workshop, or atelier.

On the East side of the grange, we punched a hole through the wall to make an entrance for our car. The masons faced the opening with stone from a fallen wall and a new beam. It looked very good.

Work had started in August of 2001. The upcoming winter would be very wet, making it difficult for the new cement floor to be poured. Water was everywhere, even backing up from the pond to the barn. But by early Spring, 2002, the barn walls, roof and floor were in place. The installation of the new doors and windows in late Spring finished the weatherizing. By the end of April we had made our move to France. In May, when our furniture arrived, we were able to store it all in the barn.

The renewed barn