200-year-old West Bethel barn rises again in Lovell

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LOVELL — Once at the point of collapse, a 200-year-old barn from West Bethel stands once again in Lovell.

The circa-1810 barn was dissembled, repaired and resurrected this summer by J. Scott Campbell of Maine Mountain Post & Beam.

Campbell is married to Marlies Ouwinga, daughter of Marvin and Tineke Ouwinga of Bethel.

A classic example of a gable entry New England barn, the barn was in very poor condition, Campbell said, when he was contacted by the owner. The post-and-beam frame had been built with mortise and tenon joints.

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“The roof had started to blow off,” Campbell said. “It needed a lot of work.”

He said the barn was on Barker Road. “It was originally a carriage barn attached to the house,” he said, and may have been part of one of the original Barker farms.

He dismantled it in June in order to bring it to his shop in Fryeburg.

The process began in Bethel with all exterior siding, roofing and sheathing carefully taken off to expose the frame, Campbell said. It was documented with scaled drawings, labeled and prepared for disassembly. After all the wooden pegs holding the joinery together were driven out, the frame was taken apart piece by piece in the reverse order of its original assembly.

Once in Fryeburg, the frame was cleaned and then meticulously repaired using traditional joinery, according to Campbell. The original barn was 30-by-24 feet, consisting of three bents (a cross-section of the frame). He enlarged the frame by adding one bent, using antique timber of the same vintage and patina and historically-correct joinery. The now 30-by-36-foot structure was then raised in Lovell for a new owner.

The barn went up July 31, off Sabattus Road, and is being boarded in by Crowell Construction of Harrison, Campbell said. He said the new barn owner plans to use it as a workshop, where he will restore vintage boats.

It is common, Campbell said, for such barns to be reused for other purposes, because there are fewer farmers today than there were decades ago.

Campbell has been a carpenter for 20 years.

“I lived through two significant house restorations as a kid,” he said. “I got the bug. I love old buildings. They’re built to last. If you see an old barn falling down, the only reason it’s still standing at all is because it was timber frame. It’s a very efficient use of materials.”

And, he said, “moving a structure is something our forefathers have done for hundreds of years. I find that 20-30 percent of the barns that I work on have either been moved once or are cut from other frames.”

He said each barn is a little different from the others, “because there’s a bit of a carpenter’s mark.”

A number of years ago, Campbell moved a barn from Lovell to Newry.

He said he gets great satisfaction in saving old buildings. “Barns seem to find me,” he said.

While MMP&B specializes in the dismantling, documentation, repair and reassembly of antique timber frames, the company also designs and cuts new timber frames, basing most of its designs on the historic timber frames of New England.

Campbell and Ouwinga live in Brownfield with their two boys. Ouwinga works at the Stone Mountain Arts Center. Several years ago, Campbell dismantled, repaired and re-erected the 200-year-old barn there.

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