Scarborough group seeks a good new home for an old barn

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SCARBOROUGH — With its square shape, hip roof and cupola, it’s not the typical New England barn.

Reminiscent of an old schoolhouse, the post-and-beam structure sitting precariously on a field-stone foundation has been a part of Broadturn Farm for many years.

But this year may be its last at the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust property.

Since purchasing the property in 2004, the SLCT has spent nearly $400,000 on improvements to the 434-acre farm, which is now run by tenants John Bliss and Stacy Brenner as a Community Supported Agriculture program. Now the organization has decided it cannot afford to invest the money needed to repair the barn.

“It is an iconic structure in the town and we have not taken this discussion or this decision lightly. … We simply have to draw the line with our spending,” SLCT Vice President Paul Austin said. “Our mission is to preserve land and the Broadturn Farm project has consumed a very great percentage of our finances and resources over the past five years.”

Though SLCT members have applied for several grants during the past two years to restore the barn, no assistance has been found. Concerned that another hard winter could cause further damage to the structure, which is dangerous in its present condition, the group plans to have it taken down.

Members are hoping someone who’s interested in saving the barn will come forward before the snow flies.

“We would accept $1,000 for the building to cover our cost to relocate existing foundation stones and regrade the site,” Austin said.

Austin said they would like to find someone who has interest in dismantling the barn and rebuilding it elsewhere in Scarborough, or at least in Maine.

The barn is believed to have been built in the early 1800s, Austin said. And many people believe at some point it was moved to its present location.

While rich in history, the two-story barn needs significant repairs to make it safe and stable.

The structure was compromised many years ago when the cupola was cut into the peak without proper support. This is one reason the roof line sags and the frame has wracked, and it must be corrected to preserve the structural integrity. The floors are no longer safe and must be rebuilt. Windows need repair or replacement and the roof and cupola need new shingles. Water-damaged framing must be fixed and the vinyl siding that currently cloaks the exterior prevents a thorough assessment of the wood underneath.

In addition to these problems, the foundation needs extensive work to help square and brace the bowed and sagging walls.

The inadequate size of the foundation indicates the barn was moved to the farm from another location, restoration specialist Michael Alderson said Wednesday. Alderson, of Round Pond, examined the barn when he was hired by SLCT recently to refloor another barn on the Broadturn property. He said he believes that the barn could have served as a schoolhouse, possibly as far away as Buxton.

Even though the barn needs a lot of work, Alderson said, “it is definitely a salvageable building.” He predicted at least 75 percent of its components could be reused.

“I always thought that building should be saved,” he said.

Even in this economy there is a “fair amount of demand” for old barns, Alderson said, adding “people need to have a real love for the look of recycled wood.” On average, he said it costs about 25 percent more than building new construction to take down a barn and put it back up because of the labor.

Alderson said he receives about three calls a year for barns. He has taken down 16 and rebuilt six of them in Maine.

But time is running out for the historic Broadturn barn. Soon the wide planks that sheath the walls and the long beams that supported the structure for so many years will be torn down and hauled away. Austin, of the SLCT, said he just hopes someone will be interested enough to rebuild it.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or

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s-scarBarnRazing1-100909.JPGPaul Austin outside the barn that must be moved or removed by winter at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough.