By Rev. Lee Alison Crawford
In the end, gravity always wins.
For about 60 years, the barn that Oren Bates built has been a fixture on the Mission Farm property. One notices it even as one barrels by at 50 m.p.h. over on Route 4. A quick glance across the fields and river is all one needs to see that this barn is in serious need of repair. The buttresses on the back side that have been holding it up for 10 years have gradually bowed almost to the point of breaking. Much to our surprise, neither the rain and winds from Tropical Storm Irene or Hurricane Sandy managed to blow the barn down, but gravity—and lack of finances to invest in the barn—will win out.
In prior years, adjacent to this structure was a smaller barn that provided shelter for the livestock. It was a three-sided building that ultimately became swaybacked and in the mid-1990s came down. Gravity won.
Before that barn came down, so did another one that sat just south of the swayback barn and the guest house (which was a carriage house before Truman Heminway converted it into a guest house in the 1930s). That barn, with its gable roof, was a much larger structure. It housed the equipment and the livestock that both priests — Truman Heminway and Daniel Goldsmith — used and tended as they farmed the land for 60 years. The only remnant of that barn forms the front foundation of the current barn, and it is bowing inward.
And now the barn that has been fighting to survive must also succumb to gravity’s demands. One is always sad to see a barn come down; they represent a major piece of the landscape. For years, over on North Road in Bethel, a barn gradually caved in. This past winter finally did it in. Ditto with a barn in Northfield. We love them, but it costs money to maintain them, and when there are not sufficient funds, the barns begin to falter and, in the end, gravity always wins.
We want structures to be permanent but they need good foundations, maintenance and funds. When any element lacks, the integrity of the structure begins to deteriorate. Sadly, the leadership of Church of Our Saviour has determined that the barn now is beyond the point of stabilization. For public safety, the barn must come down. We might save some of the wood to repurpose elsewhere on the property. We will give thanks for its builder and the years that the barn served those who worked the land here. And, who knows, some day, we might hold a good old-fashioned barn-building party and put up another barn that someday, too, will succumb to gravity and time, as we all do.
“Musings from Mission Farm” is an occasional reflection on life in the valley on the Sherburne Flats. Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal) has ministered to the Killington region since 1894 and welcomes all. The Rev. Lee Alison Crawford serves as its pastor and also volunteers as a Mountain Ambassador at Killington.
By Rev. Lee Alison Crawford