Barn drawing by Howard Bonington
Drawing by Howard Bonington
Click image to enlarge

The barn at historic Taylor-Bray Farm, described in this video by New England archaeologist Craig Chartier, dates from the early 19th century with an extension added sometime in the early 20th century. The barn served the Taylors, the Bray Brothers and the Williams family well. It has been a focal point of the farm’s festivals for more than 20 years. But as these photos show, it has clearly suffered the ravages of 200 hundred years of New England winters. 

Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

The Preservation Association

Although the Town of Yarmouth had owned Taylor-Bray Farm since 1987, the farm’s potential was not being fully exploited. A group of interested town residents formed the Taylor-Bray Farm Preservation Association in 2001 to work with the town to take advantage of all the farm offered.

The association’s initial concern was the general maintenance of the farm and care of a flock of sheep that it inherited from the last resident of the farm.  The association focused on several farm needs including regeneration of the pastures, constructing new outbuildings and the renovation and preservation of the farmhouse. Necessary repairs and upgrades to the barn were accomplished with the cooperation of the Town of Yarmouth Historical Commission and Cape Cod Regional Technical High School. After the farmhouse renovation was completed in 2009, the next major project became the preservation of the barn.

As with the work on the farmhouse, the generosity of the Town of Yarmouth through a Community Preservation Fund grant  is behind the 2021 – 2022 barn rehabilitation project. Initial funding for the planning phase was approved at town meeting in 2019. Planning is complete and additional funding for the actual work was approved at subsequent meetings.  A contract was awarded in 2021 and preliminary work is underway.

The Barn Project

Preliminary Tasks

With the renovation of the barn underway, the association with key help from the town completed some preliminary tasks. Meeting space in the caretaker’s house was prepared; the house was cleaned and the heat and utilities were turned on. Next, the barn was emptied of all that was accumulated over the twenty years of the Association’s curatorship of the farm.

Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

Historical Commission archaeology volunteers undertook an assessment of what historical evidence might be discovered in the soil around the barn before the construction work begins and the evidence is irretrievably lost. Volunteers dug a series of pits around the perimeter and collected a small number of artifacts for evaluation.

Eversource connected the service line to a new distribution box. The service was split into three different switches. One was set up for caretaker house service, one for future use with renovated barn service and one for the animal shelter/pen area. This allows us to continue operations area during the barn renovation. 

Phase One

In the first renovation phase, the barn was being lifted off the existing foundation and moved slightly north of its current location. This work was being done by a local firm, Gary Sylvester’s Building Movers & Excavators.

Two I-beam tracks were placed through the barn near each end. Trollies on each track support a network of beams with brackets bolted to vertical barn posts. This structure was lifted by hydraulic jacks allowing the barn to be rolled off its foundation. The barn has been moved off the foundation. 

A time-lapse video of the move was provided by Robert Scott Button of Maggie’s Farm Productions LLC Watch the video below.

I beam track placed through the barn
I beam track placed through the barn
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I beam track with trolly
Click image to enlarge
Network of I beams used to support the barn
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Bracket attached to vertical barn post
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Play Video

Phase Two

Iron artifact discovered while digging foundation

The barn has safely been moved off its foundation. The sills and floor were exposed showing the rot that had developed over the years. The floor was demolished but two of the sills were preserved so the good sections of each can be used in repairing the barn structure. The old foundation has also been demolished with the stone materials set aside for future use. 

During the excavation of the foundation, an iron artifact was discovered.  It is not certain what the object is. We will contact the farm’s archaeologist to help with identification. 

Hover over image for description, click to enlarge image

Next, the foundation will be reconstructed and a new barn sill plate will be built.  A new floor will be installed. When that is complete, the barn will be moved back onto its new foundation and utilities will be installed. With that done, funding for phases three and four, restoration and renovation of the exterior and interior will be requested from the Community Preservation fund.

Keep track of the progress of the renovation.

For safety reasons, public access to areas around the barn will be strictly forbidden. We will post updates to this page to keep friends and patrons of Taylor-Bray Farm fully informed of the progress of the project. 

Come back often to watch the process unfold.

Taylor-Bray Farm Preservation Association
P.O. Box 66 – 108 Bray Farm Road North, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675