The restoration of the exterior of the Melchers’s cow barn was completed this summer. Habalis Construction was the general contractor on the project which included straightening of the roof ridge, repairs to the old metal roof, replacement siding where needed, new gutters and a cement apron. Two windows had to be rebuilt, and a thorough scraping, sanding and painting of the entire building completed the job. Several interesting features were discovered during the restoration, one was the way the windows operate: Instead of regular double hung window or a hinged windows, the barn windows open by sliding behind a wooden support bar onto a ledge. Easy to make and operate!
The eastern side of the barn has wide doors on the second story that open into the hay loft. Before the restoration, the western side had an odd little area of siding that seemed to have been added after the original construction. Our investigation showed that the area was just at the floor level, and had originally served as a sweep-out hatch. The new hatch has two hinges that can easily be kicked open to sweep out dirt and hay, but then closes on itself automatically. These neat little features explain how the barn was used and helps visitors imagine the many tasks that went into running a small dairy farm.
The cow barn restoration was made possible by grants from the Duff McDuff Green, Jr. Fund, the Dr. H. Stewart Jones Trust and the Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation.
We are seeking further help to complete the restoration of the barn yard area; the original gates and fences need repair and we would like to rebuild a ‘run-in-shed’ that used to be adjacent to the barn. Completion of the barn yard is another step in trying to interpret the lives of the people and animals that called Belmont home when Gari and Corinne Melchers were in residence.