Peter Olsen's Barn

| 4/30/2015 2:51:00 PM

Tags: Barn, Norwegian, Chester, Post And Beam, Timber Frame, Dairy, Mortice And Tenon, Renee-Lucie Benoit,

Renee-Lucie BenoitOne of my fondest childhood memories is playing in a gigantic white barn on my grandmother's farm in Ohio. It was like exploring the ruins of a Mayan temple. The huge main floor seemed like a dusty cathedral. The understory where many cows had lived was dark and mysterious. The pigeons flapping away in the rafters thrilled me. My grandmother's barn is long gone, but that experience has always stayed with me, which makes the story I am about to tell you all that much more special to me.

An amazing old post-and-beam timber-frame barn is on the outskirts of the little town of Chester, California. As you drive out Highway 32 on the east side of town, you'll turn your gaze south toward Lake Almanor and there, in a large meadow, is an imposing structure way back off the highway. You can tell it's a huge barn because it looks huge even at that distance. It's like some farm country Taj Mahal. The setting helps. It's smack dab in the middle of a wide open field. The field is flat as a pancake.


This timber frame barn, nearly 150 years old, is a celebration of wood on a massive scale.


The steep pitch of the roof enables snow to slide off easily. (Photo by Jan Davies)

4/20/2016 7:06:34 AM

Hi Liz, Thank you for your comment. And it's 100% true that there is precious little interest in the old hands on skills. It's a novelty in our fast paced world. You get "that's obsolete" as a reaction all too often so the old skills relegated to the hobbyist. Fortunately hobbyists exist and they don't know how precious they are. One area where I see old ways are being protected is in the seed saving and heirloom produce. I bet if you and I look we can find ways to preserve the old skills. What would you work to preserve? I'm going to think about it, too. Love, Renee

4/19/2016 1:41:48 PM

This was a wonderful post. I wish we still taught the skills needed to build a big beautiful barn. It would be amazing if we could bring back a bit of the older basic lessons, woodworking, carpentry, blacksmithing, sewing, animal care and even cooking. So much of the basics have been lost. Thank you for posting this and reminding us how much our modern society takes for granted. Most importantly showing us what beautiful workmanship and hard work went into even a utilitarian building.

5/13/2015 11:19:02 AM

Howdy there NB! When you think of all the hand labor that went into these old barns it makes it sad indeed. They put their heart and soul into it and then it just falls down. Feather River Land trust might be able to save this one. I'm sure my grandmother's old barn is long gone replaced with a parking lot like in the song "Way to Go Ohio" by the Pretenders. As you probably know a lot of folks are selling their barns. People want them to rebuild them elsewhere because materials are expensive or they want the lumber for building homes with character. I guess that's a way for old barns to live on. Have a great old barn day yourself! - RLB

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