What better example to inaugurate our Barn of the Month feature than the stunning barn at Straitsview Farm, one of the oldest structures in the San Juan Islands and beautifully restored. The Straitsview Farm barn was built by Peter Lawson (1827-1927), a Danish sailor who came to settle on San Juan Island in 1859. In 1863 he built the barn with the help of neighbors who joined him in a ‘building bee.’
According to his daughter Lizzie Lawson (1879-1968),
Dad was told he would never get a big barn to withstand the winterwinds that blew in from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. At the time he cleared off the trees on the land below the barn on the south side and from around his crude shack or log house. Dad left a group of fir trees close to the beach.
No doubt in part due to its ‘aerodynamic’ design, it has in fact withstood those winter winds all these years!
The form of the barn is an English plan (center drive) gable-roofed hay mow with sheds on all four sides. Oriented slightly off east-west, the central space is 30′ wide by 60′ long and 26′ high. The sheds on the west and south sides are 24′ wide; the one on the east is 18′; and the one on the north 14′. Given the siting of the structure and the presence of those prevailing winds coming off the Straits, the barn was probably positioned to take advantage of funneling the breeze into the center drive to winnow grain on a threshing floor. Among the associated buildings is a granary.
The building was lovingly restored in 1992. The timber-frame structure was retained, while new concrete foundations were added and much of the siding replaced. In order to make the barn workable, the concrete floors were poured all on one level and the main center-drive entry was redesigned to accommodate modern machinery.
Today, as you drive along False Bay Road, check out this gem of a barn set among its green fields, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, Canada in the distance. Happy Canada Day to our neighbors across the water!