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Installing a boss pin on a 19th century Timber Frame Barn in Illinois

Trillium Dell Timberworks finishes work on a boss pin in a beautiful setting.

Barn Restoration

Historic Timber Frame Barn RestorationThe diversity of timber frame barns in Illinois and the Midwest is amazing, even today. While attending an annual Illinois Barn Alliance meeting some years ago, I remember hearing that based on a census done around 1900 there were 350,000 barns in Illinois, now that same population has dwindled to only 35,000 of those structures.

Our collective European heritage in the Midwest is agriculture. It’s important that we save what is left of those structures for future generations to admire and link us to our past. It has been our mission here at Trillium Dell to provide restoration services for agricultural structures since the mid 1990’s. Since that time Trillium Dell Timberworks has been involved in the restoration or repair of thousands of barns and other agricultural outbuildings across the Midwest. Most timber frame farm buildings in this region date from around the late 1820’s until the start of World War I. We have, of course, surveyed barns and buildings dating from as early as the late 1700’s and as recent as the 1930’s, but these are rare exceptions.

There is rich tradition of timber framing in the Midwest; most structures built prior to 1900 are timber frame buildings. This is true from the Flint hills of Kansas, to the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Trillium Dell is an active and corporate sponsor of the National Barn Alliance (based in Michigan), and other state barn groups such as the Kansas Barn Alliance, and our own Illinois Barn Alliance. We often provide educational workshops, hand raisings, community based restoration events, and provide donated materials and labor for community barn restorations. If you feel that you have a barn in need of restoration or repair but lack some funding, perhaps we can help make it happen through one of our community restoration events. Some examples of these on our website are the Phelps barn restoration, Midway Village Museum restoration, and the 2 Willoughby Farm restorations in Collinsville, IL for the Collinsville Area Recreation District.

The restoration of timber frame barns involves a myriad of issues related to such things as building location, foundation issues, types of adaptive re-use, roof issues, structural and engineering problems, and proper conservation technique. It is only through intensive training and thousands of barn restoration projects that the crew at Trillium Dell has been able to devise standard repair methods and techniques that allow safe, efficient, and economical repairs and restorations of these structures. We train our crew on the restoration of barns and other timber frame structures, using the Timber Framers Guild’s the Apprentice and Journey workers program core curriculum. The crew at Trillium Dell is the most highly professional, efficient, and qualified crew in the Midwest to dismantle, restore and re-erect your timber frame barn.

Historic Timber Frame Barn RestorationIn addition to training and continuing to educate our crew intensively, we have invested in an Enerpac jacking system for lifting and moving entire buildings, and developed various hardware systems (such as our tension lock technique) for re-connecting failed joints. It is our objective to use "like" methods and materials for barn repair, cutting corners and using substandard materials is not an option. It is also our intention to maintain as much of the original fabric as possible, you will find that many of our barns are put back together with a variety of scarf joints and other joined in timbers and splines. With our in-house engineering and design team, project management team, state of the art equipment and crew of professional barn restoration carpenters you are guaranteed the most successful barn conversion or barn restoration project available in the US.

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