The Olson Long Barn is a large and complex banked barn that reportedly dates from 1887. The core of the barn is a timber and log-framed structure that measures 40ft x 100ft in plan, with access on four different levels. An imposing structure that measures 24ft to the eaves beneath high gabled ends, it was originally made for storing loose hay.
The Olson Long Barn is a large and complex banked barn that reportedly dates from 1887. The core of the barn is a timber and log-framed structure that measures 40ft x 100ft in plan, with access on four different levels. An imposing structure that measures 24ft to the eaves beneath high gabled ends, it was originally made for storing loose hay. The whole structure sits upon a foundation of coursed fieldstone rubble with lime mortar (walls at the lowest level are battered and very beautifully made, showing exceptional craftsmanship).
The fixtures and fittings throughout the barn are simple and well made from round wood (saplings) rather than iron. This is significant because the many gates, pulls, handles and rails are still in excellent working condition, with a rich, well-worn patina.
The central structure of the barn is distinguished by exceptionally long transverse braces (logs that have been partially hewn to accommodate the siding). The thoughtful design, complexity of the spaces and especially the careful use of local materials all suggest that the barn was made under the direction of a master builder.
A unique feature of the Olson-Long barn is the complex earthwork that terraces the site. Hundreds of tons of earth are retained behind log and rock-crib foundations. While the dry climate preserved the exposed logs of these structures, the buried cribbing had unfortunately begun to decay.
This led to a dramatic collapse during 2006 when a 40ft section of stone cribbing gave way, threatening to damage the historic barn. M&L was called to assess the damage and make recommendations for repairs.
The barn was registered under the Washington State Heritage Barn Initiative, and the owners asked M&L to assist with an application for grant funding to help with the emergency repairs.
The client's dedication to preserving this fine old building and desire to do this absolutely correctly was clear from the onset. We worked together to create a proposal for repairs that was consistent with the National Park Service Standards and best practice. The State responded enthusiastically. Work was underway by the summer of 2008.
In May 2009, the project received the Valerie Sivinski Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation. The award was presented by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. State Historic Preservation Officer Dr. Allyson Brooks said the award acknowledges the meticulous preservation approach used by our team:
Macdonald & Lawrence tackled the problem of collapsed rock cribbing with the skill of a surgeon; working in tightly confined spaces and handling the repairs with a delicate touch. In order to preserve the historic integrity of the structures, they installed gabion cages behind their new log work, then backfilled the cribs with loose rock to hide the cages. said Dr. Brooks.
Unlike many contractors, they fully documented their work and made recommendations for future preservation efforts.