It’s an unusual sight – a barn sitting 4 feet off the ground. But, to repair the foundation of the 167-year-old structure, owner Chuck Siewert didn’t have many options.
“I could either raze it as in demolish, which is what they usually do to old barns, or raise it,” he said.
“The easiest way to repair the foundation that was bad was to literally lift it off of the foundation to do the job right. That’s what I wanted to do.”
The decision to fix the foundation instead of just demolishing the barn was because Siewert loves to restore things.
“They’re a challenge but I think that’s probably why I enjoy it so much,” he said. “Anyone can hire someone to build a new building and raze this one.”
Siewert was informed the barn was built in 1852 by the Mahoney family, who had farmed the 19 acres the 65-year-old and his wife purchased in January. To the best of his knowledge, the lower level had been used primarily for cattle though at one point was split between housing cattle and horses. The upper portion of the structure was for storing hay.
“The upstairs in the hayloft is just so cool,” he said. “All of the timbers on the inside in the roof are just like they were back in 1852. They’re just unbelievable.”
Siewert said someone tried to repair the southern end of the fieldstone foundation about 20-30 years ago.
“The south wall of the barn had fallen off literally because the foundation had crumbled,” he said. “It wasn’t a long-term repair. When we got the title to the farm in January, we saw that the south side was lower than the rest of the barn by a few inches. We figured if we wanted to fix it, we wanted to do it right.”
Siewert was told he could have razed the 50-foot by 34-foot structure and sold the timber to people looking to build homes using old barn wood. Instead, Siewert wanted to keep the barn on the Mahoney Road property.
“It would have been less costly for me to sell this and build a new metal building, but quite frankly, the new metal buildings are just ugly,” he said.
Finding someone to raise a barn off the ground isn’t as easy as finding someone to raze the structure. Siewert took to the internet to find a home mover and found two area companies that would be able to manage the job. He hired Heritage Movers and explained that instead of moving the barn, it would just need to be temporarily lifted.
The new concrete foundation was poured last week but the barn will remain off the ground for a few more weeks as the deteriorating lower walls on the structure are rebuilt before being placed on the new foundation. He plans to use the barn as a workshop and for equipment storage.
“The farmers did such a great job building it, that’s probably why it’s still in as good of shape as it is,” Siewert said.