le' coupe re doux

By the end of this post you should be able to identify an extreme preservationist.

When we were closing on the purchase of Sycamore Hill the former owner asked what we planned to do with the chicken coop...but quickly followed that up with "oh you'll probably tear it down, it is in rough shape." My eyes opened wide and I said, heck no, that's part of the charm of the place. Last year we bit off interior renovations and restoring the WPA outhouse. This year we renovated the porch, put in landscaping, and are finishing interior renovations (coming soon!); but we (I?) also made a commitment to restore the coop this year.

The coop was built in about 1930 and based on the material that was used, it looks like most of the structural members came from a few walls that were removed inside the house. Since the coop sits between the house and the barn, at the base of the hill, the roof is a dominant feature of the 21' x 16' building....and I didn't want to lose the "look" of the rustic old corrugated metal roof....but it was leaking and had caused some structural problems. So I removed and catalogued the metal roof panels, fixed the wood roof and structural problems and replaced the fascia (that was a tough decision, but new won out), put down a drip edge, and covered the roof with ice and water shield-not a cheap product. In the end the roof looked........exactly like it did before I spent $500.

Then I had to patch in wood siding that had deteriorated or was missing. There was very little of that fortunately, and since the coop was constructed with scrap and leftovers, I had enough scrap and leftovers on the farm that matched the two types of siding that the repairs are virtually seamless. Then to give my dad something to do, he painted the entire building with a sprayer.

The coop has three windows (one on each side, except for the back) and one door. It looks like the windows and door came off another building on the farm. The south window and the door were fine. The west window (though covered with layers) was still there; the east window (also covered by layers and missing its mullions and bottom rail) was also "there". So I had the sashes restored and glass put in. We've wanted to paint our exterior doors on the house a feature color, which would be carried over to the coop. We decided on deep red, which ties in the red barn and the red trim inside the house. And it looks great on the little coop.

I kept a perfect record of the costs associated with this little project, as well as documenting it with photos just in case there is ever an insurance issue. From my office window I stare at the coop and outhouse all day long. I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the results. So the question is now, do we put chickens in it? I think that it's too nice for that....I may move my office into it. Next year we work on the '20s garage and start the big project...the barn.

Too often these little farm buildings disappear, until ultimately the barn is gone and the farmhouse sits there, looking like a fish out of water. I don't know how many structures have been removed here at Sycamore Hill. The corn crib foundation sits between the coop and the barn, but I don't see putting that back. The buildings work together to give this place the charm that I fell in love with almost exactly two years ago today. They represent a history that our generation is so far removed from, and I want to be able to have some vestige of that past that my grandparents and those before them knew, saved for future generations.


Jim Grey said…
To make that a viable office, you'd need to at least heat it, and you'd do well to cool it too. Are you up for the expense?
Bev said…
Now I don't feel so bad about my brown barn/coop with bright purple trim and door. Your right about preserving the old buildings. Wish they had on my family farm.
hoosier reborn said…

A corn/wood pellet stove to heat it..and air conditioning? What's that?

My wife suggested purple I think.

vanilla said…
Yep, that's hard-core preservationism. Nice work.

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