Intriguing artifacts tend to pop up in unlikely places. Rosslyn’s carriage barn, for example.
We’re currently undertaking structural improvements to the larger of the two outbuildings west of our home. In anticipation of a re-roofing project that will include stripping the old leaking asphalt shingles and installing a new standing seam roof next spring, we’re a little over a week into jacking the eastern-most interior bent in order to reduce the deviation of a sagging cross beam. In time all three interior bents will be rehabilitated and fortified to ensure that the circa 1820s building is structurally sound once again.
Sounds technical? It is. But elegant in its simplicity. I’ll save the engineering details for a later post when I can prove a visual illustration of what we’re doing. I don’t want to tempt fate into where little bit further along the process…
For now I’d like to share with you three totally unrelated artifacts that we discovered in the large second-story hay mow while tidying up for the contractors.
When we purchased Rosslyn, the carriage barn was still quite full of architectural salvage, stored lumber and miscellanea inherited from the previous owner who had use the space for almost four decades to store anything and everything that he couldn’t fit into the house. During the first few months after closing on Rosslyn we disposed of anything in the carriage barn and ice house that we didn’t anticipate needing. Any materials that we thought might prove useful later on we’re saved. Over 3-1/2 years of renovation, we added plenty of additional lumber and building materials.
When it came time to repair the too long neglected church barn roof, We knew that an engineer was needed to assess the structural integrity of the building. Although the overall geometry of the walls and roofline were pretty good for building of its age, it was clear that at least one of the bents was beginning to fail. Removing all of the excess weight from the second floor which was contributing to the sag in the floor was obviously necessary, but I needed an engineer to assess the current structural risks and devise a plan for stabilizing and safeguarding the building.
I’ll tell you the story about a clever Vermonter who calculated the alarming possibilities resulting from a heavy snowfall and who eventually engineered a minimalist and rather elegant solution to the problem.
But for now let’s take a look at these three artifacts which emerged during the cleanup process. I apologize for the poor quality and perspective of all three shots. I shot them quickly with my iPhone without stopping to figure out the best angle so that you can help me decipher the probable function of each artifact.
Of the three, the first is the easiest to recognize. It is a rudder from a sailboat probably in the 15 to 25 foot range, and I suspect that it originally helmed a sailboat belonging to Rosslyn’s previous owner. That story also for another day, but I’ll leave you with the hypothesis that this as well as other miscellaneous nautical parts found in the hay mow once belonged to a sailboat that sank in front of Rosslyn’s boathouse some years ago.
The second artifact is more puzzling. While the sailboat rudder is for all practical purposes intact, this mysterious artifact is but a fragment of some larger mechanism. Combining carefully worked wood with intricate joinery and what appears to be cast-iron gears of some sort, the utility of this artifact has long since expired. I am fascinated with the elaborate cast-iron fabrication and joinery. It seems surprisingly elaborate for what otherwise gives the impression of being some for some sort of farm machinery. Perhaps you have some insight? It would be pleased to sort out the former use of these artifacts.
The last of the three artifacts looks vaguely as if it may have been part of a small sleigh. Perhaps a miniature sleigh that would have been used by a child? Although it does not seem to be equipped with full runners along the bottom which would allow it to slide effortlessly over snow or ice, it does have short runners that curve up at the front with small metal eyes, as if they might be used for a rope to pull the sleigh along.
Of course, I may be totally off target. This could be a piece of interior furniture or some agricultural implement with which I have no familiarity. In any case, like the previous artifact, I suspect this is missing essential parts.
What do you think? Could this be a snow slay for a young child? Possibly pulled by a pony rather than full-size horse? I invite you to wonder and speculate, and perhaps we will move a little bit closer to identifying all three items. And then, it might be possible to locate someone who has a need for these items. Certainly that would be the most rewarding update for this blog post, finding meaningful homes for all three Rosslyn artifacts. Let me know what you think!