"Barn expert talks construction, history in library series," Frederick News Post, January 11, 2009.Thurmont, Maryland
By Nicholas C. Stern
Frederick News-Post Staff
As a child, Dean Fitzgerald's parents would take him on drives through the countryside, point out old barns or houses, and say to him, "One day that won't be there any longer."
He snapped photographs of some of the old structures, and kept their images in mind when he started his timber renovation and construction business, Fitzgerald's Heavy Timber Construction Inc., 16 years ago.
Fitzgerald spoke Saturday at the Thurmont Regional Library to about a dozen people interested in the history, structure and design of some Frederick County barns.
The talk was organized as part of an agricultural history and heritage series at the library.
Much of Fitzgerald's work consists of preserving, renovating, replacing or converting old barns that have been neglected for years.
He passed around examples of the tools he uses, a combination of modern technology, such as a 16-inch circular saw or harness gear for roofwork, and ancient technology, such as wooden nails or trunnels, which have been in use since the Roman Empire, he said.
He also showed the audience examples of metal roofing that limits exposure to moisture by folding metal sheets together instead of nailing them.
His presentation also looked at problems he's encountered, such as water damage caused by leaky roofs or ineffective gutters, termites, and ill-conceived alteration of the support beams of a barn.
Many of the barns that have sat neglected for decades, some of which were built more than 200 years ago, can still be useful after some repairs, he said.
Some of Fitzgerald's photographs of area barns are on display at the library.
Erin Dingle, library administrator, said the idea of the series is to promote Frederick County's rich agricultural history.
In addition to the series, she is also hoping people will use the library's Thurmont Center for Agricultural History, an archive room with books, photographs and meeting notes stretching back 80 to 90 years.
Click on images below to view at larger size.
Barn restoration and preservation specialist Dean Fitzgerald explains the construction principles found in old barns common to the region during a seminar. (Photo by Skip Lawrence)
Frederick News Post Article, January 11, 2009