About 50 people joined together for a hands-on barn-building demonstration Jan. 13 at the Woodbury Central Park Amphitheatre.
Audience members were invited to join preservationists in assembling a scale model of a 19th century vintage barn.
The educational event and ice cream social was intended to promote preservation efforts in regard to the historic Miller Barn in Woodbury.
Bill Bruentrup, board chair of the Friends of Minnesota Barns, explained the dwindling art of barn-building, the type used when his great-grandparents, William and Ida, built their family's barn in 1891 in Maplewood. The barn is preserved as part of the Bruentrup Heritage Farm.
It was a wise farmer who kept cows in his barn, Bruentrup told the audience.
"The cattle kept the heat in there," he said.
Once the cattle were gone, the freeze/thaw cycle took hold and began to degrade the concrete foundation.
That's one of the things that threatens the Miller Barn, which was built between 1921 and 1922 by dairy farmer August Miller. The Woodbury Heritage Society is raising money to restore the structure, located near Settlers Ridge Parkway.
As late as the 20th century, building a barn meant notching the timbers with a hand-cranked drill press. That part was skipped at the demonstration, but the timbers were assembled using the traditional mortise and tenon method.
Bruentrup's son Joe and grandson William, 11, helped assemble the 162 pieces. It brought back memories for E.J. "Pete" Pinske, a third-generation barn builder, who traveled from Gaylord to attend the event with wife Darlene.
Penske, now retired, said his family built about 75 barns.
For more information about Woodbury Heritage Society or the "Save the
Miller Barn" project, visit www.woodburyheritage.org.