Timber Framers to explore Stockade, hold symposium

It’s not the Walkabout, the art show or the garden tour, but Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood wil

Traditional Timberframe Research and Advisory Group Symposium

Anyone wishing further information on the symposium can call (559) 834-8453 or visit the Web site at www.tfguild.org.

It’s not the Walkabout, the art show or the garden tour, but Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood will be bustling with visitors this weekend, all of them big fans of early Dutch architecture.

The Timber Framers Guild will hold its 19th annual Traditional Timberframe Research and Advisory Group Symposium Friday through Sunday in Schenectady, and its first order of business will be to tour the Stockade neighborhood.

“Some of our local members have set up tours for us, and we will be going into the Stockade on Friday to check it out,” said Will Beemer, executive director of the Timber Framers Guild who lives in Washington, Mass., just south of Pittsfield. “It’s a rare opportunity to look into these great old homes, and some people are even going to open up their attics for us.”

According to the Timber Framers Guild Web site, Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood is “the oldest continuously occupied residential neighborhood in the U.S. with more than 40 pre-Revolutionary War buildings.”

“It’s a really special place with a remarkable number of surviving gable-fronted houses,” said John R. Stevens of Huntington, Long Island, an author who wrote “Dutch Vernacular Architecture in North America, 1640-1830,” and the group’s featured speaker Friday night at 7:45 at the Holiday Inn.

“Some of them are disguised a bit, but they’re all based on the Old World Dutch practice of building. There’s a lot there in the Stockade. A lot more than what I was able to put in my book.”

Barns a popular topic

Much of the focus of the Timber Framers Guild is on Dutch barns, and another building Stevens will be discussing in his talk is the Dutch barn at the Mabee Farm State Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction.

“I know the Mabee Farm very well,” said Stevens, who is also president of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture. “It’s in my book and I’ll be talking about that, too. I’m very pleased that I was asked to talk at the Timber Framers’ conference. I’m looking forward to coming up there.”

The Timber Framers Guild is made up mostly of historians, architects and those interested in traditional woodworking methods. There is one thing in particular, according to Beemer, that they all have in common.

“Most of our members are really into Dutch barns as opposed to the loftier aspects of architecture,” said Beemer. “We’re into covered bridges, church steeples and other traditional things made from wood, but for a lot of us it’s about Dutch barns, and there is a good concentration of them in that area.”

Beemer expects more than 100 guild members from around the country to attend the weekend’s symposium. Lisa Sasser, an architect and preservation specialist from Amherst, N.H., will begin Friday’s program at the Holiday Inn at 7 p.m. with her talk “Why Preservation Matters.” following Stevens’ 45-minute presentation, Walt Wheeler of Hartgen Archaeological Associates of Rensselaer will discuss “Of a Compound Character: Framing Strategies Utilized by Late-Period New World Dutch Carpenters, 1770-1880.” Jan Lewandoski of Greensboro Bend, Vt., an expert on church steeples, will conclude the program with his talk at 9:30 p.m., “Fruit Barns and Other Framing on the Champlain Islands.”

The group will spend much of Saturday at the Mabee Farm before returning to the Holiday Inn for dinner and a slide show. On Sunday morning, a number of presentations will be offered before the symposium concludes at noon.

Categories: Life and Arts

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