So many Barns at Woodlawn, wait until you see the one we are building for our future!
In preparing some launch materials, I have been trying to understand all the different iterations of barns that have been built, expanded, repurposed, replaced or removed since John Black imagined Woodlawn and began construction in 1824.
What is now the Sleigh barn was much bigger in one picture, with a gamble roof, telling me it was a different barn altogether. When it was replaced, there was a hen house attached that was likely removed in the 1970s. The barn that we are replacing, in one map from 1897 is referred to simply as the stables. We believe parts of it were built in 1826 and expanded as more animals were cared for at Woodlawn. At one point, we believe it housed 16 horses and we know there were pigs, oxen, chickens, and milk cows. John moved to Woodlawn in 1827 with four of eight children still at home and with seven fireplaces and all those animals, there were quite a number of mouths to feed.
By the early 1900s, John's grandson Nixon Black was coming up to Woodlawn in a car and he had a garage built. After he died in 1928 and his cars given away, the garage became a workshop for the caretaker and it wasn't until a permanent home for the carriages was considered that the decision was made to remove that garage and build a four bay carriage barn in the same style as the original two bay garage.
Most of the west end of that 'original' barn was removed in 1948 because it was too much to care for and other than chickens, there were no animals at Woodlawn. The first generation, Emmons L. Shea, was responsible for that renovation that included adding the iconic green arches to the east façade as the roofline lifted. New doors and a public toilet facing the parking lot were also added. By the time ‘the barn’ was torn down in 2020, that remnant section of the original was nearly 200 years old and so rotten it was unsafe to enter.
When you come to visit later this fall, you will be able to see the permanent carriage barn exhibit and a beautiful barn, built under the careful eye of the 4th generation at E.L Shea, Rob Shea. This barn will house our significant archival materials as well provide exhibit space and meeting venues for small and large groups. The future is bright for Woodlawn. But all Barns require ongoing maintenance and in time, replacement, even this one!
Fondness for a memory is understandable but honestly, Woodlawn has changed every 50-100 years, essentially every generation. That was true even when the Black family was in residence. As each generation moved in, changes were made inside and out. We are caring for a property that has experienced continual change since it was first built, nearly 200 years ago. Mark Twain says that the only one who likes change is a wet baby. I disagree. I think we can all be encouraged to look for opportunities to celebrate and understand our history while creating possibilities and adapting to the changes necessary for a successful future. Join us!
Thanks for caring about Woodlawn.