Historic Building Architects, LLC 

Basking Ridge, New Jersey


The English Barn is part of a complex of vernacular frame buildings, built between the 1700’s and the 1900’s. Two rare features still survive: hewn rafters with pegged wind braces, and a “dropped” stable at the eastern end, which is at a lower level than the main floor. A three-bay extension was added to the west of the structure around 1840, using the frame of an existing smaller English Barn of the same mortise-and-tenon, hewn timber construction as the main barn.

S. Harris & Co was retained in Spring 2003 to provide structural engineering for the project and develop a long term stabilization plan for the English Barn.
The intent was to reuse the structure as a community theatre.  In January of 2004, prior to the commencement of work, the region was covered by two successive snow storms within the space of ten days which loaded the barns with the vertical static equivalent of 20 psf. Under the weight of the snow, the weak addition collapsed. While the existing bracing and cinching were sufficient to withstand the added lateral loads, the roof was locally failing at the intersection of the structures. The new task was then to safely and effectively detach the collapsed portion of the barn and relieve the remaining structure of the imposed loads.

  • Assess and document the main structural members.
  • Provide emergency stabilization for the barn while the collapsed section is disassembled.
  • Provide long term structural stabilization plans for the English Barn.
  • We assessed and documented the main structural members using photographs and measured drawings. In addition, we constructed a spreadsheet listing every element, its dimensions, condition, and recommended remediation.
  • Following the collapse, we recommended an emergency stabilization plan and produced documents depicting temporary steel supports and cross strapping to keep the structure in place.
  • Long term stabilization repairs for the barn included: straightening the columns by erecting jacks at the center lines of the barn and relaxing the banding at the upper portions of the "splints"; then, installing tie rods at the tops of the columns and drawing the turnbuckles together to tension the rods. The total elastic recovery of the deflected column was approximately 50% of the deflection, and we were able to realize an additional 20% recovery of the column lateral deflection.
English Barn, as part of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead, was listed on the State Register in 2002 and the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.