Historic Warwick barn being restored

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:47

Warwick - It was a casualty of last winter’s heavy snows. On Feb. 4, shortly before 7 p.m., the Warwick Police Department received a report that a barn at Thankful Acres Farm on Four Corners Road had collapsed. This was no ordinary barn. It was the historic red barn originally built by the Demarest family, members of which were among Warwick’s earliest settlers. Fortunately the current owner, Dominick (Dan) Capone, has hired local contractor Neil Wallace to restore the structure using many of the methods, such as post and beam construction, that were used in the 18th century. At that time the land was the property of the Demarest family, which, according to Town of Warwick Historian Dr. Richard Hull, dated back to around 1752 when Jacobus Demarest, a French Huguenot, arrived from what is now Oradell, N.J. Evidence from 1780 and 1835 Hull, however, added that experts who recently examined the original parts of the barn dated it around 1780 and that James Benedict Demarest, most likely borrowed the original timbers and constructed a larger barn, in 1835. A modern contractor might very well have an easier time building a new home than restoring this historic structure. Both Hull and Wallace explained that the barn was constructed using huge hand-hewn and laboriously planed girders, made of white oak. The supporting cross beam braces had mortise and tenon joints and they were matched by incised Roman numerals and secured with wooden chestnut pegs. The Demarest barn, at that time, was painted with pigments from oxidized and reddish iron ore from the nearby Bearfort Mountains. It was then mixed with skim milk, lime and linseed oil. The nails and door hinges, dating back to the original part of the barn, were likely forged by an itinerant blacksmith. The original roof, however, had cedar shingles replaced in the 1920s with sheets of tin. Built to last 'another 250 years’ “This has been a very difficult project,” said Wallace, “but we’re coming down the home stretch. When we’re finished, this will last another 250 years.” Wallace, who has experience restoring old barns dating back to 1975 when his first clients were farmers, hired a special craftsman who specializes in this type of work. Using a portable saw mill he was able to carve the replacement beams from white oak timbers on site. “This is a nice Warwick story of a successful barn restoration project, thanks to its caring owner,” said Hull.

This is a nice Warwick story of a successful barn restoration project, thanks to its caring owner.” Town of Warwick Historian Dr. Richard Hull on Dominick Capone’s efforts to restore the barn at Thankful Acres Farm on Four Corners Road