We recently purchased an old historic property in Attica IN in September 2018 with an old, beautiful 1910 Monitor Style barn. Strong winds came through two nights ago and collapsed the barn. We‘re deeply saddened as we were preparing for renovations to use the barn as a wedding venue. We want to restore the barn to its former glory, but it’s extremely difficult to find someone that still builds the mortise and tenon style, and financially we’re not even sure if it’s possible for us to do so
Before and after
. Any thoughts, suggestions, ideas?!
I was saddened to see that your beautiful Monitor barn was collapsed by this week's storms. I have talked with lots of folks who are worried that this may happen to their barns, but I have to say that it is still pretty rare to see one completely collapse like this, because the timber frame--even when old--is a very strong structure. It is more common to lose a roof or part of a roof, or even see siding blown off than to see the entire structure go down.
In response to your request for thoughts, suggestions, or ideas, my first inclination would be to clear the rubble and assess the real damage to the timber frame. This probably sounds crazy, but it may actually be possible to re-erect the frame if it is not too badly damaged. New roofs and new siding are relatively easy to apply, but the frame is the critical element. I cannot know its condition before it collapsed, and it may have been either very deteriorated in its timber connections--the pegged mortise and tenon joinery--or the wood sufficiently rotted to have lost its structural integrity. Otherwise, it is unlikely that it would all go down at once. And based on the picture, it seems to have blown down in a heap, but not scattered over the countryside as it may have done if hit by a tornado or sustained wind. This makes me think that frame deterioration may be the reason it blew down, but if enough of the frame is still sound, and the wood mortise and tenon connections are not shattered from the collapse, it may be that a significant amount of the frame could be put back up, and the deteriorated parts repaired or replaced. In other words, if enough of the primary mortise and tenon connections (where vertical posts meet horizontal girts) are not too damaged, it may be possible to re-erect the frame without prohibitive repair costs. So my first effort would be to assess whether or not a significant amount of the frame is sound enough to warrant rehabilitation. This assessment will take some expert eyes, no doubt, but I live by the credo that anything can be repaired, and that more often than not, such repair is worth the effort.
It would help to have expert advice, and a firm like Trillium Dell Timberworks comes to mind, because they are notable barn repair experts, but barns are relatively simple wooden structures, and good (and willing) carpenters can often repair them, even if they are not expert timber framers, so all is not necessarily lost if you cannot afford a full technical restoration.
Because your goal was to repurpose your barn as a wedding venue, you would have been required to undertake significant upgrades to meet the necessary building codes for assembly structures, and several interventions would have been necessary. Starting over, given these requirements, may not be too prohibitive, but you will still want to reuse as much of the original structure as possible in order to achieve the look and feel that makes such a venue so attractive. Looking at the bright side, I like to think of your barn's rehabilitation as an opportunity to make it structurally safe and sound once again, and ready for a new use.