An Update on our Dolan-Jenks Barn Restoration Project

Posted by on Jun 18, 2021 in Featured slider, Talks | Comments Off on An Update on our Dolan-Jenks Barn Restoration Project

An Update on our Dolan-Jenks Barn Restoration Project

The Dolan-Jenks barn is pictured above in its former (top right) and approximate future locations. Its move to the museum will allow for a number of new opportunities.

By Kendall McGowan

This article was published in our Summer 2021 newsletter. Read more of the newsletter here.

If you’ve been down Route 43 recently, you will have noticed that the barn located at 1101 Green River Road has been taken down. But it will not be disappearing from the Williamstown landscape.

The Williamstown Historical Museum has embarked on a special project to preserve the iconic Dolan-Jenks barn, which was generously donated to the museum by Carole and Peter Dolan. Now that it is fully dismantled, the components will be restored and then moved and reassembled behind the WHM at 32 New Ashford Road site of the old South Center School, which houses the museum’s exhibits.

The Dolan-Jenks barn is part of a property that once included a working farm with 12 ancillary buildings, in addition to the one that remains. It is estimated that the barn was built in the mid-1800s and was used for storing ice, farm equipment and vehicles, and even served as a staging area for a local traveling carousel.  It is a surviving member of an ever-dwindling group of early- and mid-19th century barns that were used to support agriculture, transportation, and daily life in the first century after European settlers came to Williamstown.

The addition of the barn to WHM property will allow for larger items, such as this cart, to be added to our collection and displayed.

The museum has chosen David Babcock of Babcock Brothers Restoration to perform the disassembly, restoration, and reassembly of the barn. David is the son of Richard W. Babcock, a renowned barn preservationist who lived in Hancock, and is an excellent restorer in his own right. His group has carefully taken the barn apart, salvaging as much as possible, and has transported the materials to their workshop in Lee, Massachusetts, where they will clean and restore each piece. The barn components will then be moved back to Williamstown and rebuilt, with a corresponding public barn raising and other educational events.

The addition of the Dolan-Jenks barn to the museum’s collection opens the door to a range of new opportunities. It will host demonstrations of 19th-century construction methods, tool use, joinery, and other traditional skills. Educational programs will also cover the significance of agriculture, farm buildings and local landscapes in Williamstown’s history. Furthermore, the extra building will allow for the display of antique farm tools and vehicles that the museum currently doesn’t have the room to accept. We look forward to welcoming you into this space in the next year!

To contribute to this project or request more information, please reach out to the Williamstown Historical Museum by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 413-458-2160.

The Dolan-Jenks barn was deconstructed over the course of a few weeks in April and May by Babcock Brothers Restoration, who have since transported it to their workshop in Lee, Massachusetts. Once restored, it will return to Williamstown.