Leeds Historical Society highlights local historic barns on tour

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LEEDS — Over 50 people took advantage of a perfect September Saturday to board a yellow school bus to tour four historic barns with the Leeds Historical Society and barn “guru” Don Perkins, author of “The Barns of Maine: Our History, Our Story.”

The day started at Springbrook Golf Club, where Perkins gave a presentation on the history of barns in Maine and how their use and construction had changed over the last two centuries. After the presentation, the group explored Springbrook’s wonderful Victorian barn, now used as its clubhouse.

Its open space gave Perkins an opportunity to point out numerous features and, unique among the barns toured, the “ships knees” in the basement. Used in timber-frame construction “knees” are natural sections of wood which incorporate a right angle or a slightly obtuse one. When sawed out of the larger timber, these braces are naturally strong and make excellent reinforcing members. They were used as braces in ship building as well as in timber frame construction.

Moving on, the group rode the roads of Leeds, passing numerous barns, large and small, and stopping a three more wonderful examples of the barns of Maine, ranging from an early English barn, to a small barn with hand-hewn timbers attached to a lovely farm house, and finally, a fine example of an affluent farmer’s barn, complete with a cupola and hand-turned posts on the large workhorse stalls.

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A stop at the Leeds Community Church for lunch provided the tour with an opportunity to socialize and compare notes on the various barns.

The Leeds Historical Society’s next program, planned for mid-January, will focus on Leeds residents and their role in the Civil War. Stay tuned for more information as to time and place.

With Christmas coming people are reminded that they may once again buy Leeds Commemorative pottery and the limited edition notecards featuring paintings by Leeds resident Ian B. Ormon. Each card shows a scene of Leeds, and on the back of the card, Ormon has written a short piece about the scene’s relevance to the the town.

Both the pottery and the cards may be purchased at the Leeds Town Office at 8 Community Drive.

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