Since 2009, the iFarm in Boxford, Massachusetts has been keeping crews from PTF busy. Christine Barensfeld, the owner of the farm, has collaborated with PTF to restore the farm which consistently operated from 1750 – 1932. Chris purchased the farm in 2009 a midst the threat of developers who would have purchased the property and parcelled the land for the construction of new homes. Since then, Chris has been accruing as much information as possible about the farm’s history, originally known as Towne Farm. She has held several events at the farm providing lectures, slides shows of historic photographs, exhibits of archaeological artifacts found on the farm, and tours of the property.
Chris’ concept to restore the farm covers both architectural restoration as well as re-establishing 19th-century agricultural operations. She has composed a team of professionals who have been collaborating to help her reach this goal. Preservation Timber Framing is proud to be a part of this unique team which includes Benjamin Nutter Architects, Howell Custom Building, Landscapes by Lillabeth.
When I arrived to iFarm in August of 2012, efforts to restore the farm had been well underway. The projects that had been completed included the restoration of the barn, carriage house, utility shed, and water tower. Focus during the early fall of 2012 was directed to the construction of a timber framed kitchen-ell addition to the original late-18th century farm house. The frame was raised just before thanksgiving in November of 2012.
Since that time we have been concentrating on the marriage between the old and new through the restoration of interior structural and finish components. This has included tandem maneuvers re-leveling floors systems while selectively replacing deteriorated floor joists and a severely rotted beam which supported the chimney hearth. Work has also been done to slightly reconfigure the room layouts in an effort to reestablish the original late 18th century design.
Along the same thread of re-establishing the original design Dan, Keith, and Tom have used their combined expertise to determine what interior casing details are original to the construction of the house. In the north-west bathroom we found the original interior casing of the window to be simple, with a single bead on the corner. This discovery matches the single beaded baseboard and post casings in rooms on the second floor. Using this information we have embarked on repairing existing casing and replicating this detail by custom milling identical 3/4 and 1 inch pine casing for the doors, windows, structural frame, and as baseboard.
Additionally we have fully restored all of the doors original to the house, as well as doors for the addition that Chris and Benjamin Nutter Architects bought from a local architectural salvage yard. The steam box method of scraping large quantities of doors, windows, etc. has proven to be the most effective and non-toxic method of removing lead paint.
As work is steadily heading in the direction toward a full restoration of the farmhouse, complete with a new historically compatible kitchen-ell, there is never a dull moment on the farm. Most recently in a collaborative effort with Lillabeth, Chris has recruited us to construct six 30’ tall bamboo teepees. The teepees will be used as a trellis to aid in the growth of hops. Taking approximately three years to harvest the hops, Chris will be starting her nano-brewery this summer. Any ideas on a name for this sure-to-be-tasty brew? I, for one, like the name Towne Road Beer!
More on iFarm here.
David Ewing came to PTF through the Maine Preservation intern program. While working at PTF, he is pursuing a degree from Boston Architectural College. David lives in Dover, NH with his wife and beagle.