Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Barn and Welkin


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The footsteps of the past resonate a bit more loudly at Meadow Brook Farm, though the barns are empty. The Teeter family acquired this land in 1754 and farmed it for nearly 200 years. Even before I learned anything about its history the building felt venerable. The massive timbers that span the central bay come from trees that may have been 200 years old in the 18th century when they were felled to build this. They are big bones, and I felt a business-like sense of purpose about the place. It had been storage for the farm's orchard, and I could imagine that wagons and a crew of men might arrive at any moment and begin unloading crates of apples, the first of the season.

Here is a bit of history that was sent to me by the current owner:

In 2004, internationally-renowned timberman, Jim Kricker and Peter Sinclair, Editor of the Hudson Vernacular Architecture Newsletter visited the farm, identifying and dating the historic structures on the property.   The oldest barn on the farm was originally of Dutch design, (constructed in the early 1700s), one of ten Dutch barns registered in Red Hook. Roman numeral markings, used in pre-revolutionary times, show where structural beams were married.  This barn had bays for housing horses and cows, and a center section for storing a carriage.  At some point the barn was added on to, the roof was raised and it was moved over a full basement to handle the later orchard.

An English side-entrance barn with a two-story carriage house also graces the property along with a stone summer kitchen with a bees-hive oven, (dating back to the 1700s), and an ice house that was later converted into a stable and a workshop.

Up on the hill behind the barns most of the old orchards are gone, and the old workers quarters are in ruins, and further off some of the land has become subdivisions.

The current owner is looking to sell the property to someone who will respect and maintain its historic integrity.  Many thanks to my former college roommate who led me to this ancient farmstead.