Barn Demolition Stars on Facebook

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Front Page / Jul. 13, 2017 9:57am EDT

By M. D. Drysdale


Kevin Southworth (above, right) gets a helping hand while hauling heavy timbers during a demolition session at the LaBounty farm in Braintree (Herald / M.D. Drysdale) Kevin Southworth (above, right) gets a helping hand while hauling heavy timbers during a demolition session at the LaBounty farm in Braintree (Herald / M.D. Drysdale) How many barns do you know that have a following on Facebook?

The most famous barn in the White River Valley just now must be the large, handsome barn on the Kermit LaBounty farm in Braintree, just over the line from Randolph.

Or perhaps we should say the most famous ex-barn.

The barn is, or was, actually two barns constructed by John B. Hutchison—one built 157 years ago in 1860 with hand-hewn rafters, and the other built as an attachment about 25 years later when power saws did the cutting.

The two of them stretched 70 feet by 30 feet, a handsome structure that dominated the view from the road. Purchased by Gordon LaBounty, Kermit’s father, in 1935, it was used as a heifer barn, a hay barn, and for equipment storage.

Over the last decade, however, it was clear that the barn was deteriorating badly, sagging a bit in the back and looking both sad and dangerous at once.

What To Do?

LaBounty knew he had a problem on his hands: “It would cost too much to fix it, and otherwise it would fall into a heap,” he noted. An expensive heap.

Enter Kevin Southworth, owner of New England Barn Salvage based in Wardsboro. Until last year, he was an electrical specialist on construction work. His job now is tearing down old barns and selling the pieces.

Southworth had been removing a barn for Justin Poulin, who told him about the LaBounty barn. Southworth was impressed, both by the size of the building and the details of the construction, including wooden sashes on the windows.

“You don’t see such a barn very often,” he explained. He quickly made a deal with Kermit to demolish it free of charge and clean up the area. Work was begun about three weeks ago.

Barn Number 10

Southworth told The Herald he had been in the business just since last June, and this is his 10th barn demolition. He works with Patrick Williams, who until recently was a plumber.

To the uninitiated, it looks like an impossible job and a dangerous one. Southworth admitted that his biggest worry right now is the concentration of weight on the roof of the newer building, which threatens to collapse the structure.

It’s also painstaking work. Every rafter must be photographed and labeled with a number.

“After taking it apart, we have to figure out how to put it together again,” he explained.

“Anything that’s not rotten will be used again,” he said.

The larger barn he will erect on his own property and fill it with— what else?—parts of other barns.

There’s a considerable market for the parts, he said. The timbers of the La Bounty barn, hundreds of them, are expected to bring $20,000 or even $30,000, while the several thousand board feet of wallboard might bring several hundred dollars.

Potential buyers include new condos that are built to have an “old Vermont look,” he explained.

And the Facebook connection? You can follow the barn demolition step by step at newenglandbarnsalvage@ facebook. A lot of people are tuning in and “People even pitch in to identify parts of the building,” Southworth said.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said of the online feedback. “Of course, sometimes they are totally wrong.”

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