The Art of Old Buildings

SEA_1409-EditEach time I have an opportunity to walk in the Central Business District of Mason City, I marvel at the old structures and the amount of time it took to build them in the old ways. Keep in mind, they didn’t have power tools, electricity, hydraulic lifts, and likely nearly everything you would find in the power tool sections of a hardware store. I am one of the biggest proponents of doing everything we can in our community to preserve and restore that which was built in the old days and in the old ways. I was taught at a very early age of how to do things manually with the correct tools versus using power tools. I have fond memories of my grandparents who lived a very good yet frugal life on a true working farm. My grandfather knew how to do just about anything by hand. I will never forget going to visit them and personally seeing his huge barn that was moved by likely cyclone winds off its foundation on two sides. My father was very concerned about what his father would have to do with the animals in that barn. His response in his thick European accent was, “Don’t worry about my barn, I will put it back together.” About a month later we went to visit them and to my absolute astonishment the barn was back on its foundations! My father asked him how he managed to get that barn back in place. His response was, “A lot of planning and time.” He used monster cast iron screw jacks, smoothed timbers and fence stretchers to get that gigantic barn back on its stone foundations all by himself. Now that was an accomplishment. But I guess if any man could survive a run away full team of horses and be lodged under a hay rack with nearly his entire rib cage broken, be left for dead and still survive… then that was a man who knew how to survive. Years later, after my grandmother died he made the choice to come and live with us. I continued to learn much in a quiet way from the man who knew how to move barns. Perhaps I learned more from him whenever I hear clients and customers speaking about a home or building beyond repair. I just think to myself, there is an art of old buildings, each one has their quirks and their stories. They just need a lot of planning and time to get themselves back on their foundations.

Joe Chodur

About the Author | Joe Chodur

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