The (Barn) House that Jack Built
From Something Old comes Something New
Above: Farm. Art. Heritage: The story of the preservation of the two barns that date back to the late 1700's to early 1800's. Jack Clemmons restored and joined the two historic buildings together to create the Barn House in 1996. The Barn House is one of six historic buildings on the Clemmons Family Farm-- one of the largest African American-owned farms in Vermont.
Who knew that a shy near-sighted boy growing up in the 1920's could become a pediatric pathologist? Who knew that a pediatric pathologist could become an artist?
Who knew that restoring two old barns could become a work of art?
Jack Clemmons preserved two historic farm buildings that were falling apart, and created the Barn House. He began the project when he was 73 years old. Twenty years later, in the video Farm. Art. Heritage, Jack spends quality time with family friends Ngame and Pauline to explain his vision and the process to restore the old barns.
1 + 1 = 1
African American legacies, and the legacies of all of the many different people and cultures of the African diaspora, need to be identified, documented and shared much more widely than they presently are. These are the land, properties and true-life stories that represent past and present resilience, creativity and perseverance. Legacies offer lessons that are important for everyone-- today and for our future generations.
The vision and the work that went into preserving an old cow barn and an old granary on the Clemmons Family Farm is one of these legacies. Dating back to the late 1700's to early 1800's, both farm structures were falling apart. During the early 1990's, several well-meaning contractors advised Jack Clemmons to just tear the old buildings down rather than "waste" time and resources trying to preserve them.
Jack had other ideas. As a young child, Jack had worked alongside his grandfather, who was a carpenter. Jack had learned the skills of the trade and he had also learned to appreciate manual labor, fine craftsmanship, and the beauty of historic structures. When he was 73 years old, Jack decided to preserve the old cow barn and granary. He ignored the skepticism of the contractors and worked with just one other carpenter to design, plan and preserve the two structures. He scoured salvage yards around Vermont to find historic windows, doors, antique hardware and other treasures to use in the preservation work. Several years later, the Barn House was complete!