Young Warner Couple Embraces the Challenge of Preserving a Local Landmark: c. 1870 Barn Showcased in 52 Barns in 52 Weeks Initiative

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Jason Mutschler and Abigail Strauss immediately felt connected to this c. 1870 barn in Warner Village which they purchased about a year ago. "We are so excited to be the next caretakers of this special place. There is something unique about it, among the mismatched but perfect rafters," said Strauss who grew up in an old house in Jaffrey and attended school in farm structures during her preschool and elementary years.

Mutschler and Strauss reached out to the Preservation Alliance for some help and were awarded a barn assessment grant in the Alliance's second grant round of the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks 2017 barn initiative.   Preservation contractor Ian Blackman visited the barn and created a professional "road map" for repair or re-use made possible through generous donors to the campaign. The couple’s attendance at a summer barn repair workshop also allowed them to gather information and connect with other barn owners, and they’ve started some preservation projects.  The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance is highlighting this couple and their barn because of  their commitment to preserve this local landmark for future generations with help from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign.

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Mutschler and Strauss’ long-range plan is to rehabilitate this historic 50’ x 36’ structure to use as a workshop, and for storage and entertaining, while maintaining its 19th-century charm. The structure needs their investment to address critical foundation, sill and framing needs.  

The barn and farmhouse were originally built by George F. Quimby, a local farmer as recorded by the 1870 U.S. Census. Like most town farmers with smaller lots, Quimby probably used the barn to house his livestock for personal use, with a little left over to sell to his neighbors. This was common with village barns: with a cow or two for milking, a horse for transportation, a few chickens, a pig, and some sheep, and storage of hay during the winter months.

After Quimby’s death, the land passed to his wife Emma. The 1892 Hurd map shows subsequent owners including Edmund C. Cole, the first principal of the Simonds Free High School and owner/editor of the Kearsarge Independent newspaper for over 30 years. Cole then sold the property to Samuel H. Billings, who made some improvements to the barn before selling the property to S.B. Clark in 1925. Clark then sold the property to Horace Martin, who owned the IGA grocery store in Warner Village, that same year. The Warner Historical Society’s records indicate that Mrs. Martin still resided in the farmhouse as late as 1976.

The couple is new to Warner but love their property and the community. “As soon as we looked at it, we knew it was our home," said Strauss. With the guidance and inspiration offered from the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign, Mutschler and Strauss should have many happy years enjoying their iconic barn within walking distance of Warner Village. The Preservation Alliance wishes them well and thanks them for their commitment to preserve a piece of New Hampshire’s agricultural heritage.

The goal of 52 Barns in 52 Weeks is to help at least 52 barn owners across the state with assessment grants, assistance in securing tax relief, and educational opportunities to help save their historic barns. Throughout 2017, barns and their owners are being showcased by the Preservation Alliance to celebrate good work and offer practical information and inspiration to others.  

We are grateful to all of our donors to date, and encourage others to add their support with an investment in the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign so we can do more! 

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