LaRue Homestead Barn

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This unique barn was originally built about 1760 in the northern New Jersey town of Mahwah, close to the New York state border. It was moved in 1876 to about a half mile from where we found it. Moving barns was a common occurrence, as they were meant to last for centuries and could be easily unpegged, disassembled and relocated to another farm.

Being located along the old colonial road that ran from Boston to Philadelphia, the LaRue barn has a rich history. It is what is known as an English-framed barn, though the LaRue family who built it were of French Huguenot descent. Its timbers are oak and chestnut, felled by ax from the surrounding virgin forest and hewn by hand.

Crooked Braces

An unusual feature of this barn are the curved and dovetailed wind braces connecting the long overhead tie beams to the outside wall posts. These are called “crooked braces” because they were cut from the crook or curved limb of a tree. This feature is unusual to find in an American barn because there was so much good, straight wood available for building timbers that it was not necessary to use such curved pieces of wood. The use of such tree crooks indicates that the barn was probably built by a barn framer who learned his trade in Europe, where crooks were often used due to the shortage of straight timber.

A Role in the American Revolution

Early in its history, the LaRue barn played a role in the American Revolution. During the cold winter of 1780, the American army encamped in the neighborhood of the LaRue farm and undoubtedly Continental soldiers under General Washington spent nights in this barn. We can imagine their conversation about the war and their families. But one thought that definitely did not cross their minds was that one day, over two hundred and twenty years later, some young men from a place called Texas would come to New Jersey, dismantle this barn, move it nearly two thousand miles away and rebuild it—much less that they would fly through the air to get there!

During the American Revolution George Washington stayed on two occasions at the house next to where the barn was originally located—so we can most likely claim that “George Washington’s horse slept here!”

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