This past week the governor closed all schools in the state until May 15th. Also, all sporting events and school tours have been postponed or canceled. The Mint Hill Historical Society has postponed the 4th Annual Mint Hill Rodeo and Discover Mint Hill has been rescheduled for autumn.
As this pandemic unfolds in Mint Hill, the long-awaited timber frame barn arrived from Ohio on February 26th. It was originally erected near the village of Bellville, Ohio, more than 125 years ago. The barn was constructed with mortise and tenon connections pegged with hand-cut wooden pegs into solid wood poles and beams. Timber framing is a two-thousand-year-old system of construction that has changed throughout history to reflect both the availability of resources and technology. The Mint Hill Historical Society purchased the frame from Marion Rogers of Rogers Lumber Company in 2017. The many pieces of the frame were stored by Mr. Rogers while plans were drawn and permits secured.
Originally erected while the timber was green, this barn reflects the available technology from the 1880s. Some of the beams and posts show the original hatchet marks of a hand-cut log. Others show the circular marks of a large saw blade perhaps powered by steam. The wooden beams are mostly a beautiful elm, the rafters are red oak, the plates, girts, and purlins are both red and white oak. Farmers used whatever was available near the site and it was not uncommon for several types of hardwood to be used in the construction process. Not only was cutting the trees a labor-intensive task but hauling was another critical obstacle. Plenty of available manpower would have made construction possible.
Modern heavy equipment such as cranes or forklifts were not available. Standing and securing the five bents, including the surprise “A-frame bent”, took two full days with modern equipment. In the late 1880s, depending on the number of helpers, the job would have taken much longer. The Mint Hill Historical Society was especially pleased and surprised at a unique feature. Barn builder, Johnny Joe called the “open-end” construction an “A-frame bent”. He said it is very rare and he had not seen it before. A long hand sawed timber extends from the floor all the way to the high peak in the roof construction. This support opens the space allowing for fewer posts on the floor surface. The openness of the barn will allow space for the many needs and purposes planned for the barn by the historical society. With the first stage of the barn re-construction, came the driving of wooden pegs into the holes drilled more than 125 years ago and placing braces that easily slid into slots etched out by hand in the 1880s. Then careful measurements were taken corner to corner, square to square. The building had been reassembled 150 years after the trees were logged. Measurements indicated only a ¾ inch deviation.
Marion Rogers, his son Michael and John Hitchcock headed back to Ohio. These three men, with the help of historical society volunteers, erected the beautiful, magnificent timber frame. A team of Mint Hill Historical Society volunteers, men, and women, stained boards the following week, with the generosity of Monroe Hardware, 5,000 sq. feet of barn siding was stained using 30 gallons of stain. The boards were ready and the three barn builders returned from Ohio as the pandemic worsened and cases increased in North Carolina. Each day barn builders nailed boards to the frame with the assistance of local volunteers.
With the siding in place, the next phase of construction will be adding lean-toes to each side. These additions will provide space for the restrooms and a warming kitchen plus display space for the large collection of horse-drawn buggies, carriages, goat carts, cotton wagons, and other items reminiscent of the farming community Mint Hill experienced. Work will continue on the barn as long as allowed or until finished. Please consider a contribution so this amazing barn can become the center of Mint Hill’s social and educational activities in the future.
The information provided in this article was graciously given by Becky Griffin from the Mint Hill Historical Society.