by Carol Taylor
After sitting on the property for nearly a decade, the barn at the Wise Homestead Museum in Erie has finally been completely restored.
The history of the barn is not connected with the Wise homestead at all. The Wise homestead had a similar barn on its property, but it was about four to five times as large, according to Sarah Wise, president of the Erie Historical Society and descendant of the Wise family. The Wise barn was in such disrepair when Sarah Wise took over the property in the 1980s that it was demolished.
The newly restored barn was originally a part of the Samuel D. Graham property in Boulder County, near Erie and the now defunct town of Canfield. Graham built the barn in the mid-1870s. William and Cornelia Howell bought the property in 1876 and their family owned it until 1924. The Howell-Robinson dairy farm operated at the site for quite some time.
A survey of the area was commissioned after the property was acquired by Boulder County Parks and Open Space. According to the "Cultural Resource Survey of Lower Boulder Creek," conducted by Peter J. Gleichman in 1997, Building 2, the barn, dates to about 1875 and was originally used as a granary. The "peg barn" measures about 19 by 17 feet and is 1½ stories high with a braced frame and mortise-and-tenon construction.
At the time of the survey, Gleichman indicated that the Howell-Robinson Farm was not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places due to the loss of integrity of the buildings.
However, Gleichman wrote in an e-mail, "I did recognize the uniqueness of Building 2, and thought it should be preserved, even if it had to be moved." The Erie Historical Society expressed interest in restoring the barn and had it moved to their property.
The barn sat next to the Wise Homestead Museum farmhouse for years in a deteriorated condition. Later the historical society learned of funds available through Boulder County and was granted $3,250 in 2008 to help with the restoration.
In February, the corrugated iron roof went on the barn, to match the corrugated roof of the Wise Homestead farmhouse, and restoration was complete.
The renovated space can accommodate small groups and will be used for educational activities and to demonstrate farm life circa 1900. The historical society hopes to have exhibits of equipment and artifacts in the barn as well.
Although there will not be a public grand opening, you can tour the barn by appointment by calling the Erie Historical Society, 303-828-4561. The Wise Homestead Museum, at 11611 Jasper Road in Erie, will open for the season on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning May 2.
Contributions for the barn restoration expenses not covered by the grant are welcome and can be made to the Erie Historical Society.
Carol Taylor is a librarian and local history researcher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org