Inner glow

A modern design allows the historic architecture of this relocated barn to shine through.

With its doors closed, the barn-turned-pool house resembles a large cedar box— simple and sleek, topped by a standing seam metal roof. But slide those colossal doors open at night and the building’s front transforms into a stage alive with light. The main attraction, the barn’s interior, suddenly blazes into sight through massive glass windows.

“The idea was that at night when the doors opened, you’d get this incredible transparency into the barn,” says architect Tom Gamper, of Schamu Machowski Greco Architects. “It was the idea of this glass membrane that lets the old architecture speak for itself, as if it were on display.”

The barn now rests on an expanse of property in northern Baltimore County, overlooking a new 20-by-50-foot pool built into a quartzite and Tennessee sandstone patio. But nearly three years ago, the 18th-century bank barn sat on a farm in New Hampshire. There, it was discovered by Ken Epworth, art director and owner of The Barn People, a barn restoration and reconstruction company based in Vermont.

“By the time I got to it, the real estate developer just wanted it out of there,” says Epworth. “It was abandoned, rundown— just standing there being historical.” After hearing from a couple looking for an old building to refurbish into a pool house, Epworth transported the barn to this Baltimore County property, where he and Gamper collaborated on its reconstruction.

On top of the barn’s 35-by-52-foot frame, The Barn People installed antique sheath boards on the roof, walls and loft ceilings, which create a finished look for the interior. On the exterior, they installed insulated panels over the roof structure and walls, and sheathed the exterior in cedar siding.

The owners studded the barn walls with a number of Marvin awning windows, a slight departure from the original architecture (old barns had few windows), but as a result, light pours into the structure. “It’s a new life for an old building, and windows are important,” says Epworth. “You want to be able to see out, and it also lights the building.”

Throughout the project, Gamper aimed for a comfortable merging of the new and the old. “For anything new that we did, we wanted the new to activate the old and not drown it out,” he explains. “And that takes some subtlety.”

For instance, the few areas of newer wood on the ground floor were stained verdigris green to blend in with the original wood, and a thick beam from a single tree, felled before 1800, stretches the width of the ceiling. Though the builders primarily stayed true to the barn’s original layout (from the 9-foot-8-inch high loft to the old slaughter wheel hanging from the ceiling), they added a catwalk and metal railing to form the loft into a complete circle. Another subtle modern twist was the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system.

In general, the owners kept the new amenities unobtrusive so as not to detract from the building. The groundfloor rooms were converted into a mini kitchen, laundry room, mechanical room and bathing area with a steam shower and powder room. The loft contains an office and sitting area, while the center of the barn functions as a multi-purpose entertainment space. They kept the decor simple: custom-made iron lanterns along the lower wall, a few scattered paintings, rust patina-style ceiling fans, pitchfork-backed stools at the bar.

The barn took approximately two years to renovate, but the owners love the resulting flexibility— along with the peaceful atmosphere. “It’s the warmth of the building,” explains one of the homeowners. “You walk in there and it just sort of envelops you. It’s really a wonderful feeling.”

Architect Tom Gamper, Schamu Machowski Greco Architects, Baltimore, 410-685-3582, smgarch.com
Construction Ken Epworth, The Barn People, Windsor, Vt., 802-674-5898, thebarnpeople.com

At home in a barn

This stone, wood and copper structure provides a lovely, rustic habitat for a nature-loving couple.

No architects, contractors or designers for Terry Leland. When he purchased his 20th-century wooden bank barn in 1984, Leland started making additions and changes right away— and he’s never really stopped.

“I’m always painting something and changing something,” Leland says. “But the primary construction has been finished for four or five years now.”

Nestled among hemlock and pine trees and built into a hill, the redwood barn sits on 1 1/4 acres near Loch Raven Reservoir. The building was originally part of a family estate, with the family house (now part of a separate property) sitting several acres down the road. “They obviously were gentleman farmers,” Leland notes with a chuckle. “They didn’t want the barn really close to the house!”

For Leland and his wife, Patti, both retired, the barn is the perfect home in the country. “It’s beautiful— the pine trees and the grass and meadow. We see the water of Loch Raven when the leaves fall,” he says. “Every day when I drive in there it gives me a thrill to look at that house. There’s nothing artificial on it. There is no plastic, there is no aluminum. It’s all stone and wood and copper, and that’s what I like. It’s a natural-looking home.”

The original oak siding of the barn (replaced with redwood in the late 1960s) is preserved on the interior basement walls, and nearly all of the yellow pine flooring inside remains unchanged. However, Leland did make several other updates. In 1986, he added a pool behind the barn; a few years later, he replaced the old shutters with pane windows. He also added a garage and a cedar pergola at the back of the house. His favorite project: converting part of the walk-in basement, where the animals were once kept, into a billiard room.

He chose a simple, rugged decor, leaving the floors and fireplace in their original brick, hanging a few copper lanterns and placing a few bar stools around an old library table where he plays cards with his friends. Beyond that, he painted the original wooden door blue, put up a few paintings of barns and billiard rooms and left it at that. The feeling of age and history was something Leland didn’t want to lose. “Sometimes when I’m down there and I drink enough beer, I hear a horse,” he says with a laugh.

Patti Leland mainly took control of the upstairs design, selecting a more traditional decor. There, they installed new bathrooms, granite countertops and tumbled marble floors, and painted the walls in neutrals and subtle greens and blues. The third-floor hayloft they use for bedrooms.

In all of the Lelands’ updates to the barn, comfort remained important, along with staying true to the warm atmosphere of an old, very lived-in barn that continues to collect stories over the years. “When I go outside and look back at the house,” Leland says, “I kind of look at it and think, ‘Boy, if these walls could talk…’”

Country sanctuary

This stately bank barn offers gracious living quarters for humans and horses alike.

Paula and John Mitcherling named their eight-acre property just off Loch Raven “The Sanctuary,” intending the name to mean a retreat for both people and animals. With their expansive stretch of rolling green hills and trees in Phoenix, Md., the Mitcherlings knew that someday they would bring Paula’s two horses home from Arizona. But first, they had to build a barn.

When Paula’s father, George Kelley, retired and announced plans to move to the country, together the Kelleys and the Mitcherlings came up with the perfect plan. They would build a barn on the three acres of pasture next to the Mitcherlings’ house, with the upper level serving as a home for the Kelleys and the lower level as a stable for the horses.

“We chose a bank barn because bank barns are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, because it’s half underground,” Paula Mitcherling explains. They hired an Amish group, Sylvan Stoltzfus Builders, to erect the frame for a German-style barn with a 4-foot overshot on the front, built into the side of a hill.

Simple materials such as iron, stone and wood give the barn a rustic feel. The siding is white pine board and batten stained a pale gray, and the standing seam metal roof sports a cupola and a deer weather vane (a little link back to the property’s name).

“I love the rustic outlook of the building,” says John Mitcherling. “It looks like it’s been here for 100 years, even though it’s very modern.”

Stacked stone forms the base and pillars of the barn, stretching out in a bluestone-capped path to the patio. Custom ironwork tops the stone wall, with real horseshoes from one of the Mitcherlings’ horses cast into the fence and a stone horse head mounted onto the first-floor retaining wall.

The bottom level, with Southern yellow pine walls and a recycled rubber floor, acts as a working stable with three stalls where horses can enjoy top-notch amenities: air conditioning and heating, an automatic water fly spray system, a sprinkler system and even rotating feeding doors. “We actually have the sound system in the barn!” says Paula Mitcherling, laughing. “Horses like music, too.”

“We spent a lot of time on the details there,” says Sylvan Stoltzfus, the Amish contractor. “The first floor of that barn where the horses are was nice enough to live in.”

The Mitcherlings hired another contracting company, Lin-Mar Homes, to finish the Kelleys’ living quarters upstairs. They aimed for a clean-lined modern look, with state-of-the-art everything. “It’s a very contemporary, updated feel, and that really contrasts with the outside,” says John Mitcherling.

A stacked stone fireplace, white couch and flat screen TV adorn hardwood oak floors and tan walls. The kitchen features stainless steel appliances, a granite countertop and cherry cabinets. The large center living space was designed to let in an abundance of light and air, with a vaulted ceiling and a row of glass doors leading to the patio providing a view of the pasture. “There’s a breeze blowing through there all the time,” says John Mitcherling. “It’s just a beautiful setting.”

After about a year and a half of work, the barn was completed in 2007, and the Kelleys moved in. At some point, the Mitcherlings’ two horses will join them. “The fact that we can all live here in a symbiotic relationship makes it a true sanctuary for all of us,” says John Mitcherling. 

Architect Wes Burton, Burton Pfund Architecture,  410-321-5957
Exterior Construction Sylvan Stoltzfus, Sylvan Stoltzfus Builders, 717-442-8408
Interior Construction Al Fyle, Lin-Mar Homes, Fallston, 410-557-7322, lin-marhomes.com

Party central

A vintage 1930s dairy barn gets a new life as an entertainment space on this Monkton farm.

By Nayana Davis
photographed by Erik Kvalsvik

Springmeade Manor lies in the heart of Maryland hunt country near Monkton. The 54-acre property is part of the land originally surveyed and patented by U.S. Senator and delegate to the Continental Congress Charles Carroll, and is visually stunning, with lush green fields, forests and a vast, glistening lake. The many buildings on-site include a main house, guesthouse, gazebo, several sheds— and what the current residents call a “party barn.”

When the residents, a mature couple, first saw Springmeade Manor, they were struck by its beauty. However, the derelict barn, with its chipped paint, missing shingles and many pigeons, was an eyesore.

“We wanted a place where we could hold large gatherings with family and friends,” the husband says. “The barn, as it was, looked terrible. We knew we had some work to do.” So the couple enlisted architect Robert Hollendonner and the late interior designer Greg LeVanis to create some Old English charm for the barn.

The entrance is marked by two towering doors modeled after those that adorn the Maine stables of the Rockefeller family. Inside, there is a modestly decorated first floor with a small bar, a coat room and a row of white benches along one wall. Tall, white pillars run through the center of the room, contrasting with exquisite antique chandeliers hanging overhead. The focal point of the first floor, however, is the large pine canoe suspended from the ceiling

“We generally use the first floor to set up a large banquet table,” says the husband. “This is where some of our smaller functions take place.”

Upstairs, however, is a whole different story. Two massive sliding doors open up to reveal windows that enable sunshine to flood the pine wood room. “It’s even more beautiful in the moonlight,” the husband says. “The atmosphere just becomes so serene.”

In this space, it is the collection of prized game animals the husband shot in Africa over the past 30 years that truly warrants attention. The centerpiece is a Cape buffalo head mounted above the gas fireplace festooned with bronze lion statues. Oryx and deer heads are hung on either side of the buffalo, and pheasants, fowl and other game are scattered throughout the room. Above the toilet in the bathroom, an ostrich head peeks out of a small window pane.

A grand, eye-catching chandelier hangs in the center of the room, illuminating the Persian carpet below. Small dining tables and chairs are set off to the side for company. A cluster of gentlemen’s chairs are grouped in a corner for quieter conversation.

“This is where we hold our big celebrations— wedding receptions, birthday parties, political rallies, hunt teas,” the husband says. “It’s a sight! People come out in full hunting gear complete with boots and helmets. They park their horses in the stable and then come in for some good times.”

It seems like the “party barn” is serving the couple well.

Architect Robert Hollendonner, 202-332-1100

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