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Jan 1, 1998

RESTORING HISTORY

Old barn finds new life on the Stitt farm.

Hesperia - If beams and walls could speak, Peggy and Sam Stitt III of Hesperia would have over 130 years of stories to listen to.

The Stitts finished restoring and moving what many believe is the oldest frame barn in Dayton Township in Newaygo County.

Builder Edward Nelson Jones family lineage has documented the barn to be built in 1858. It was the first frame barn built in Dayton Township, recorded in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Newaygo County.

From the corner of Comstock and Eighth avenues, the barn was moved to its new home to begin 1998 on the Stitt property where it could possibly have at least another 100 years of stories to gain. The Stitts live about five miles east of Hesperia on M-20.

Barn restoration is not new to the Stitts. Sam and his sons, Brad and Sam IV, have restored barns across the state for many, many years.

But never before had restoring a barn been so fulfilling as moving this old timer. Every time the Stitts look out their window they can admire what Sam loves most; old restored barns.

The post-and-beam barn sat idle for many years, looking very dilapidated. In fact the current owner John Griffes just wanted to get it off his property. Instead of throwing away perfectly good beams, he found a home where it would get the love and attention to live on.

Finding Sam was the perfect match. Sam wanted an older barn to complete his homestead, and Griffes wanted the barn off his property.

The Stitts began removing the barn in November. First they tore off the roof and siding that could not be reused. The rafters and pins were removed and finally the Stitts had a crane separate the beams and moved them.

Back on Stitt property, a new foundation was completed and ready for the barn. Once the beams were repaired, the posts and beams were reassembled and put together. Add a new roof, shingles and some new siding and the barn looked brand new from the outside. On the inside, the post and beam frame was the same virgin wood Nelson used 139 years ago.

Sam said virgin wood is much stronger than many woods used today in building. According to Sam, virgin wood is wood that was grown naturally in its habitat, not trees that were planted from other regions.

The entire project took about 160 hours to reconstruct the 1,760 square foot barn.

The Stitts plan to put in another layer of siding and lay a floor in the future. But until then, the Stitts are content with the new addition to their family.

Reproduced with permission of Oceana's Herald-Journal.