Nettle Meadow’s Old Barn
Plan Your Next Event in this Grand Piece of History
Nettle Meadow recently completed the restoration of their historic barn built in 1903 by local architect, Edmund Barber. Of the many structures at Nettle Meadow Farm, this historic old barn towers over all. A well-known barn in Thurman since its construction by Barber, this turn-of-the-century gem boasts a gambrel roof, atypical of barns in our area. It was Meadowbrook Stock Farm’s horse barn, in an era when good horses were the currency of farming and many visitors to the farm have talked about how this amazing three plus story structure was state-of-the-art for barn buildings in its day.
When current owners, Sheila Flanagan and Lorraine Lambiase, bought Nettle Meadow Farm in 2005, the old barn sagged sadly, though it still held so much of its architectural grandeur. Kids in some bygone era had fired bullets through the roof, creating innumerable leaks. Subsequent years of invading weather, neglect and misuse took their toll. By the Fall of 2011, the tremendous inverted hull that is the barn’s roof, developed alarming ripples. Finally, after Hurricane Irene in 2011, the barn sagged so dangerously Sheila and Lorraine feared it would collapse under the weight of a North Country snow storm. Sheila lamented “when the wind blows hard, we expect to wake up and see that barn in a heap on the ground.”
Sheila and Lorraine initially sought grants for historical barn restoration to help them bring this barn back to the condition it enjoyed in the heyday of the Stock Farm, but in the recent economic climate, those sorts of funds simply were not available. After some initial success making and selling award winning cheeses nationally, Sheila and Lorraine, with the wonderful assistance of some family, neighbors, farm visitors and Farm Credit East, took it on themselves to invest in saving this old barn. With the help of their friend Ed Carpenter, a local contractor, who initially shored up the old barn in 2005 to keep it from collapsing, Sheila and Lorraine found Andy Leblanc, a barn restorer from Indian Lake, who was game to try to save the old barn. Andy repaired and replaced the failing timbers one by one and began the slow meticulous process of replacing floors, walls and windows until the old barn was whole again. This careful project took more than a year. Locals Joel and Aaron Mosher, who were not scared away by the enormous gambrel roof, were able to replace the roof and its perlines and trusses one by one until the roof line began to look straight again and the leaking stopped.
Once the home of prize livestock, that old barn is now home to Flanagan and Lambiase’s Joseph F. Kemp Memorial Animal Sanctuary, housing animals too disabled or old to be productive. The cast of rescue animals who have lived there is large and each animal’s story is endearing.
There were Izabella and Drako, geriatric donkeys that had been found wandering in Brooklyn. They were delivered to Nettle Meadow and lived out their final years among friends—Drako celebrating each morning with exuberant braying. And no one will ever forget Floyd and Henry. Floyd, a frail juvenile Alpine buck brought to the farm in a declining state, was adopted by Henry, a young Jersey bull calf. Henry slept with smiling Floyd curled up in the protective circle of his husky frame. Then came Blinky and Kinky, injured turkeys who became fast friends despite her blindness and his lameness. All these—and more—have been nurtured and housed beneath the compromised gambrel roof of Nettle Meadow’s old barn.
Finally, the barn that has faithfully served rescue animals for years has itself been rescued by the masterful work of Andy Leblanc and Joel and Aaron Mosher. The job of saving this barn was huge, but the results have been phenomenal.
The Cathedral-like second story of the old barn is now available for events. For more information or to make a reservation, please email us at [email protected]ttlemeadow.com.