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Old barn set to rise again in Pa.

December 15, 2006|by DON AINES

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - There was a not-so-old-fashioned barn raising Thursday in Franklin County, this one taking place in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Greencastle.

Once completed, the barn will be used as a repository for history instead of hay.

A small crew aided by a Grove crane raised the oak beam mortise-and-tenon framework of the 19th-century barn. This is not new construction, but reconstruction of a barn purchased by the museum three years ago and moved piece by piece from a farm near Marion, Pa., said Glenn James of Craftwright Timber Frames of Westminster, Md.

It is a gigantic three-dimensional archaeological jigsaw puzzle, with the timbers and stone foundation having been disassembled, catalogued, numbered and photographed before being brought to Greencastle, said Bonnie Shockey, president of the museum, which is at 365 S. Ridge Ave.

The museum bought the barn for $3,000, but rebuilding it and converting it to museum space and artifact storage will cost more than $500,000, Shockey said. The foundation for the barn was blasted out of the rocky ground in 2005 and the 2-foot-thick limestone walls reassembled to get to the point where Thursday's barn raising could take place.

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James said the barn appears to have been built between 1860 and 1875, using square-rule joinery, a technique that came into use about 1800.

"We broke one of our sections raising it this morning," James said. A joint failed as it was being raised by the crane, but no one was hurt and the wall frame was repaired and up by lunchtime.

By the end of the day, a camera on the museum's Web site showed three exterior walls and some interior partitions had been assembled and raised. James said it would take a couple of days to put up the frame, but it might be a couple of months before the sides and roof are completed.

At this point, Shockey said enough money has been raised through donations to put the barn up and construct two climate-controlled rooms for artifact and document storage on the first level. Another climate-controlled storage space will be added in later phases, along with space for exhibits, research, a library and meetings, she said.

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