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Foundations and Basements

Before the 1840s, most Vermont barns were constructed without basements, as seen in the image below.

Barn Constructed Without a Basement

Barn Constructed Without a Basement: Image courtesy of Thomas Visser, A Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings, 1997.

Between the 1830s and 1850s, manure basements came into use. The barn was raised and laid on a dry-stone foundation so that manure could be collected in the basement. Notice the high, stone foundation on the barn below.

Barn Raised on a Stone

Barn Raised on a Stone Foundation: Image courtesy of Thomas Visser.

Bank barns began to replace older barns in the mid-19th century. Bank barns were built into the side of the bank. The basement was accessible from the lower level, while the main floor could be accessed from the upper level, as seen in the image on the left. Many older barns at this time were raised and moved onto stone foundations, as seen in the image on the right.

Bank Barns Bank Barns

Bank Barns: Images courtesy of Thomas Visser.

Around the 1850s and 1860s, windows were placed in basements to allow light and ventilation.

Basement Windows

Basement Windows: Image courtesy of Thomas Visser.

During the early 20th century, poured concrete foundations were popular, as seen in the image below, but few barns after the 1920s were constructed with basements.

Poured Concrete Foundation

Poured Concrete Foundation: Image courtesy of Thomas Visser.

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