Barn Salvage Operation

July 2012 => Ithaca, NY

This fine barn was built in the middle of the 1800s just west of Ithaca, NY. Sometime in the 1980s, the barn developed a lean. With a tight roof and good siding, most of the wood inside remained in good shape -- but the structural problems meant that the days of this barn were numbered.

A lot of barn demolition projects destroy the barn. Instead, we tried to preserve as much of it as we could. And we used fairly simple tools.


Barn from the Air

The Salvage Operation

This barn was built with (real dimensions) 3x5" roof members, wide (20"+) oak floor boards, and the usual hand-hewn beams.

It turns out one-or-two people can take down a barn of this size in about five days.

Lacking a crane or cherry-picker, we left the roof intact. We started with the siding to provide light, then took up the floors. After that, we took down as much of the frame as possible before pulling it over.

Day 1 Before-and-After

Day 2 Before-and-After, 2nd Floor

Joinery Example

Day 3

We burned broken pieces of siding and other wood we wouldn't be able to use.

And then made stacks of the salvaged barn wood.

Day 4 Before-and-After


Pulling over the barn involved two simple tools: straps and a come-a-long.

We began by weakening the frame (using a saw) at the triangular supports up top. Then we attached the straps and pulled from the highest point we could reach. We pulled one side, then another, until it came down.


site created 7.2012 by spencer