A Vintage Style Barn is Transformed Into a Stylish Home

This inspiring barn style house is located on the banks of the Potomac River in Loudoun County. The renovated historic bank barn at River Farm is host to parties, receptions, and festivities for a family and their special guests. The barn was originally built in the late 1800s, and Blackburn Architects preserved much of the structure but reclad the barn in SIPs panels and with new board-and-batten skin. The existing corncrib was converted into a sundeck with views of the horse farm located to the west. The northeast facade of the barn was replaced with floor-to-ceiling glass, which provides panoramic views of the Potomac from the main floor and the loft. The barn style house project received an AIA Merit Award in Historic Resources and Southern Living Magazine’s Home Award in Historic Restoration. Barns have a long history in America, and you will find several different styles of barns across the country.

English Barns. The first barns that were built in America came from the design ideas that were brought over from England by the colonists. These barns were simple, open structures that were built with timber-frame construction. The English barns were often windowless, and usually had the entrance doors along the eaves and didn't have any basement or loft space. This style of barns was inspired out of feudal community spaces found in medieval Europe, the barn designs of the colonists were approximately 30 feet by 40 feet with a threshing floor in the center of the barn. This area of the barn would be in front of the eave doors and would be where the farmer would harvest his wheat. The rest of the barn would then be divided into animal stalls and for grain storage. English barns were not barns designed for large-scale agriculture, with the harvesting and the storing of grain being the main purpose. The average farmer of 1700 to 1800s did not have herds of livestock and needed only a barn with a few stables for the family cows and workhorses.

Bank Barn. The Bank Barn's beginnings started when farmers still needing more room for cattle, started building barns based off of the traditional Yankee style into the banks and hillsides, which allowed the farmers to add one or two stories to the structure. Most commonly these barns had entrances on the gable ends; the bank barns had cupolas and clapboards to help with ventilation. The multiple stories in the barn would allow for feed and manure to be kept on the base level, along with some cattle. The second story of the barn would be dedicated to the cows, and because of the bank barn's hillside design, both levels of the barn would be accessible from the ground. A third story in the bank barn accessed by a ladder, which would be the hayloft. Bank barns remained popular from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s.

Yankee/New England Barn. The Yankee or New England barns emerged from the original English barn styles, but with more with the intention of increasing the livestock on the farm. In the 19th Century, farming had shifted to having greater livestock production and dairy farming, so these agricultural needs required a new barn style. The Yankee/New England Barn changed the barn entrance and the exit to the gable ends of the building, so the farmers were able to set up animal stables along either long side of the barn.

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