Barn building the old-fashioned

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 1999

way takes muscle and sweat


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Dec. 29, 1999 11 PM

Back around the 1870s people had more muscle than money and that’s exactly what it took to build a barn out of hand-cut, hand-hewned logs. And, that’s what it’s taking to put it back together again the old way.

Charles Lee and his construction crew are restoring a log barn back to its original state and they are doing it much the same way it was built – with muscle and sweat.

"We’re going to the woods and cutting the trees and debarking them with a drawing knife just like they did back then," Lee said, adding that the logs will be used to add two side sheds to the log structure that is one of the prized structures at Pike Pioneer Museum.

The barn was donated to the museum several months ago after it was "discovered" in Wilcox County by Ken Hendricks, chairman of the museum’s board of directors.

The barn was built from cedar logs around 1850 on what was then known as the Pate Plantation.

Hendricks realized what a unique addition the log barn would be to Pike Pioneer Museum. Hendricks acquired the barn for the museum and it was moved to the museum intact with the exception of the roof.

Lee said the sheds that were originally on each side of the barn had been lost to time and weather and had to be put back in order for the barn to be authentic in design.

"The shed on the right was a milking room and the one of the left was fenced as a pen for the animals," Lee said. "The barn itself has a tack room on the right and a crib on the left with a hayloft up top. The opening down the middle was for the wagons. It is an unusual barn in its construction and about as unique as any barn I’ve ever seen."

Lee’s crew is adding the sheds to the barn with the came type cuts that are used in the original logs.

"We’re using some metal spikes to reinforce the logs but originally they just lapped the logs and the logs tied themselves together," he said. "They did put wood pegs in the top logs to help hold them but mainly the roof kept it pulled together."

A roof of wood shakes will be added to the barn as the finishing touch. The old barn is standing on its original rock pillars and visitors to the museum will be able to see the ingenuity of Alabama’s pioneers.

"There won’t be another one like it anywhere around," Lee said. "I hope people here will appreciate what they have in this old log barn. It’s quite a sight."