July 7, 2012

Oldest farm in Western Europe almost torn down

Filed under: Architecture,History by Branko Collin @ 11:36 am

Farmer Piet Scheepers from Best, Noord Brabant, simply did not know that this barn of his was so old. He figured 300 years, tops. And because it was difficult to work in due to the low ceiling, he was ready to tear the building down, six years ago.

Research by local historian Dick Zweers has since put a stop to those plans, Omroep Brabant reports. Zweers found out that the wood in the building was from 1263: “The first thing I noticed that this used to be the sort of house where there was always a fire, people were always in the same room, they always had a need for warm water—you can tell by those sooted beams.” He adds: “There have been changes, but the construction is in essence still the same.”

Scheepers had already acquired a permit for demolition, now the government wants to turn the barn—which currently houses calves—into a state monument, and is willing to invest 100,000 euro in renovation, as is the provincial government.

Omroep Brabant calls this the oldest farm still in use in Western Europe. Back in November, Zweers was still hedging his bets: “Great Britain has also got a lot of old stuff.”

(Photo: Google Street View)

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June 2, 2012

Monumental tobacco barns may now be used to house businesses

Filed under: Architecture,History by Branko Collin @ 8:19 am

The municipality of Utrechtse Heuvelrug has broadened usage rules for so-called ‘tabaksschuren’, or ‘tobacco barns’, barns that were used in the 18th and 19th century to dry tobacco leaves.

According to De Telegraaf the region used to be the tobacco centre of the Netherlands. The barns were typically 24 metres long and 12 metres wide, and had a tarred roof and shutters in the gable to keep the inside cool and draughty.

Until last Wednesday old tobacco barns could only legally be used as homes, but the municipality will now allow businesses such as offices and tea houses to operate from the classic barns.

A list of tobacco barns (with photos) can be found here (PDF).

(Drawing by Paulus van Liender, 1731-1797, of a tobacco barn just outside Amersfoort.)

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