The Symes family farm house and barn, circa 1895.
A Lake George father and his two sons are breathing new life into old dilapidated barns in the Northeast, resurrecting both the wood — and the long-gone men who built them.
The Russell family researches the barns, finds out who built them and documents those findings.
“And when we provide the wood for beams or flooring or siding, we also provide our customers a book detailing that history, complete with historical photos,” said 29-year-old Tyler, who handles the research and business end while dad Whitney and brother Garrett lead the deconstruction efforts.
“We’re not just selling wood, we’re telling stories,” Whitney said.
And one of the barn’s stories just got even better.
The “StoriedBoards” team reclaimed the 1880s Symes family barn in Ryegate, Vt. last year and mined thousands of board feet of beams, flooring and siding. Tyler immediately went to work on the genealogy and developed a 10-page book for those who purchase the wood, complete with pictures of the family on the porch of the home next to the barn and even details about the builder’s time as a Civil War soldier.
While researching his ancestry with a basic Google search, Kansas resident Ron Symes stumbled upon the “StoriedBoards” website and saw his family’s barn. He called asking for samples of wood from the barn. He had just lost his home due to a “catastrophic foundation failure” and was looking for wood from the old barn to use in the rebuilding process.
Symes plans to turn some his ancestors’ barn lumber into a kitchen table.
“It’ll be like a new beginning and nice to have an old connection in brand new home,” he said.
Symes said he also finds it nice that everybody who buys lumber from his family’s old barn gets a glimpse at his family’s heritage and his “triple great grandfather” who built it.
“It’s really neat,” he said.
“StoriedBoards” offers wood from five different barns and more will be coming this spring. Tyler said his father has had a lot of business ideas over the years, but this one, to add stories to bring boards back to life, clicked.
“The light bulb went off,” Tyler said. “That’s what makes us different.”