The following document was prepared by a team of
volunteers interested in preserving the camp's old barn, located in the
maintenance yard. Minor corrections were made for use here on the web site.
Boy Scouts Of America
Teddy Roosevelt Council
Onteora Scout Reservation
Barn Preservation Initiative
The timber frame Barn, built around 1925, occasionally referred to as the maintenance shed, is in need of
repair. There are three levels to the barn: the main vehicle entrance on the east side, an upper level on
the south half that appears to be a hay loft and a lower level accessible from the north and south where stables
and storage are located.
The Barn is in considerably better condition than expected. Although the roof has a considerable large number of holes in the 2" to 5"
diameter size, there is no corresponding dry rot in the barn. This may be partially attributed to the utilization of hard woods such as Cherry
and Maple in the construction. The deck at the main vehicle entrance needs to be rebuilt as well as a rotted out sill beam and cripple stud
on the East Side. Addressing these three items will restore the structural integrity of the Barn and perhaps add another 50 years of
There are three options available regarding the plight of the Barn: first, the do nothing approach, second, demolish it and third, preserve
it. The do nothing approach will lead to severe structural degradation
and ultimate collapse. This course of action could lead to a dangerous situation where someone could possible get hurt and may result in
increased insurance expense. Demolishing the Barn will forever deny the
Scouts a valuable historic resource. Preserving the Barn for future generations of scouts will provide them the opportunity to conduct
various activities not other wise possible. The historic value of the construction methods utilized will increase the awareness of the Scouts
not otherwise available to them.
Currently the barn is being used to store: 8 Snark sailboats, army type cots, donated shipping crates in the lower level, floor tiles and
associated accoutrements, lighting fixtures and other miscellaneous junk. Until the main entrance floor succumbed to rot, vehicles were
stored inside the Barn. The lower level accessed by the north and south sides, once housed horses, as evidenced by the pile of old horseshoes
and 4 to 8 stalls.
The barn is located approximately 30 feet southwest of the Ranger's maintenance shop and about 60 yards west of the first aid station. The
barn has a limited view of the lake.
The Barn's potential to serve the Scouts is limited only to our imaginations.
Conceivably the Barn could be a perpetual work in progress.
The entire renovation process should be preformed with as much Scout participation as practical.
The hayloft serves as a convenient place to store the sailboats. There currently is enough room to store the boats and with a little cleaning
up and provisioning of light a repair area could be set up to demonstrate requirement #8 of the Small Boat Sailing merit badge. This
could truly be a hands on experience for the Scouts.
Blacksmith Merit Badge
The lower level, northeast section is an ideal place to set up a forge. This very well was the area the horse
shoer worked when visiting the reservation. The Scouts will benefit with a hands on merit badge
experience and the reservation will have access to a dying trade. With the proper design and provisioning for Fire Control, a safe and
functioning forge could be possible.
Prior to the floor rotting out at the main vehicle entrance, the Barn had been used to store heavy equipment. It may be possible to repair the
floor to accommodate this traffic once again. If this were the case the Scouts would have the opportunity to fulfill the Automotive & Farm
Vehicles merit badges and help to maintain the maintenance vehicles.
The Scouts will be able to learn different trades and will be able to demonstrate their skills on the renovation project. The
part of the overall reconstruction of the Barn may earn: Plumbing, Woodworking, Metal Works, Painting, Home Repair, Electricity and Masonry
Merit Badges. Troops, as an ongoing project, may adopt specific tasks in the renovation project. Of course, the work presented as complete must
comply with all governmental and Scout requirements and be approved by the Barn Preservation Committee (BPC).
Forestry management and Orienteering
The Scouts have a wonderful opportunity to actually participate in environmental science. Proper forest management of the over 1,400 acres
of wooded land will contribute greatly to the experience of all visitors
to the reservation. A command center could be set up that will initially attempt to map and inventory the
Reservation. With the use of
the Global Positing Satellites or GPS, a detailed map can be developed. Along with GPS there is software available
today that would assist in creating a database of the assets on the
The roof is the most expensive item in the preservation project. Because of its height and possible insurance requirements, this task may
need to be preformed by a bonded contractor. Costs can be minimized by the utilization of volunteer workers. I would be willing to contribute
my time and I my brother who is a civil engineer said that he would contribute also. I am sure there are others who may willing to
contribute time. Still, there are sizable costs here to be considered. Like a bonded contractor, laborers and roofing material to cover
1,600 square feet. Material cost for a tin roof reconstruction should be about $1,500 plus
fascia and miscellaneous items.
The main vehicle entrance is off limits to motorized vehicles because of a rotted sill and floor. Reconstruction would consist of
removing and replacing a 30' timber sill (6"x6") and replacing a 3-foot cripple stud. After completion of the sill, the main entrance floor can
be repaired. The sill beam, crippled stud and floor planking can be harvested from downed trees on the Reservation and milled locally. The
floor reconstruction would necessitate the skills of a carpenter and a rigger. Attached to the Barn on the West Side is a lumber shed housing a
large industrial DeWalt radial arm saw. Initial appraisal was that it is repairable. Activating the saw shed would provide the Reservation
with the ability to handle larger sized lumber.
The Barn's outer siding is clapboard and in relative good construction but needs to be repaired and treated. Donation pledges
have been made for all the paint necessary to treat the Barn sides. It will be necessary to determine whether paint or stain should be
utilized. The color also needs to be determined.
Other restoration projects include window replacement, landscaping, grading, masonry retaining walls and utility provisioning are need to
properly restore the Barn.
My intention is to present the big picture. The Barn is a potential hazard. The main vehicle entrance with its holes poses a hazard to the
unsuspecting intruder. Continuing roof leaks will eventually deteriorate the structure. 20 years ago it was said that the Barn was a hazard and
will tumble. We don't have that luxury now. We are available to be of assistance in the continuing preservation of the
Onteora Scout Reservation Barn.
Additional Merit Badges that a preserved Barn may accommodate are:
Several volunteers from Troop 40 conducted a Beaver Weekend on Nov. 14, 1999 removing and making safe partially fallen trees and clearing the
communication lines on the Reservation. Additional work needs to be performed to clear reservation trails and campsites which Troop 40 has
pledged time. Troop 40's older Scouts, Assistant Scoutmasters and Committee members are willing to volunteer their time to help in this
endeavor. This group includes professions in Forestry, Rigging and Business.
These are some of the more immediate benefits that will accrue to the scouts if the Barn is preserved. In addition, the Sailing program will
be enhanced if there are facilities to properly maintain the boats. Possibly, some arrangements can be made with the local stables to
provide some sort of riding program during summer camp.
Sadly, as many of us know, this project didn't come to
fruition. The Council decided that the barn was too far gone to preserve, and it
was torn down during the winter of 2000-2001.
Hopefully the same thing won't happen to the Council