Lake Lorraine to dismantle, repurpose old barn

Aug. 14, 2018

The developers at Lake Lorraine are dismantling an old barn on the property and plan to repurpose the wood somewhere else on the property.

The land it sits on is planned to be developed into a retail site, meaning the barn had to be moved or demolished.

“It’s been a priority for our development project from the start to preserve and communicate the history in a meaningful way so the community can appreciate it,” Patty Vognild, vice president of Friessen Development, said in a statement. “Its unique history is one of the reasons Lake Lorraine is so special to the Friessen family and many long-term west-side residents.”

The 130-acre parcel known as Lake Lorraine was originally five parcels of land that Warren Friessen acquired over 15 years. Part of the land included a farm, with a house and the existing barn. The house was torn down in 2015 when the road was built to get to the retail area on the east side of Lake Lorraine.

Friessen Development, the developers of Lake Lorraine, initially saved the barn when the surrounding land was being readied with the intent to incorporate the barn into the development in some way. A Facebook post on the Lake Lorraine page in February asked the public to weigh in — and responses were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping it or restoring it in some way.

Keeping the barn in its current state is complicated, however, developers said.

The roof is bowing on one side, one of the second floor doors has fallen off, and years ago, plywood was added to the foundation to reinforce rotting wood at its base. Inside, the structure is broken up by vertical beams that support the hayloft.

Up a narrow staircase, the second floor showcases an open space with tall ceilings and exposed trusses shaped like a more traditional hoop barn; the exterior of the barn has an A-frame roof. Then there’s the challenge of moving the structure. Because the lower portion is not strong, the overall structure could be damaged during the move. This could render it unsafe and unusable as a structure and potentially damage a large amount of the wood if the decision were made after the fact to use the wood in a repurposed structure.

“Originally, I felt strongly to keep the barn as it exists,” Vognild said. “After consulting with movers, architects and builders, it became obvious that to make this 80-year old structure meet modern-day building codes to become usable could likely end in disaster. “

Kris Gagnon with Banking Barns of Hills, Minn., was hired by Friessen Development to reclaim the salvageable barn wood. Gagnon and his team are starting to gently dismantle the barn by hand this week. It’s estimated to take two to three weeks, weather permitting.

Before starting the project, Gagnon estimated that 75 percent to 80 percent of the wood could be saved and repurposed, though that estimate will evolve as they complete the work, he said. Although the roof is bowing, it has consistently had shingles and good coverage, which means the wood inside the barn has not been damaged by water or other elements.

Gagnon, who has taken down approximately 15 barn structures in the region in the past five years, commended Friessen Development for choosing to save the wood rather than tearing it down or attempting to move it and destroying the wood.

“It has a story and people care about it and this is the best solution,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon will band the wood, and it will be stored. Friessen Development is working with local architectural and landscape design firm Confluence to design an updated structure to use as a community space within the Lake Lorraine development.

They said the intent is to use as much of the existing barn wood as possible in the new structure — and to use the space to honor some of the historical aspects of the Lake Lorraine development and the Friessen family’s contribution. Vognild said the plan is to thoughtfully use some of the wood to make new furnishings, keeping the old charm and history but in a practical, usable manner.

The existing barn measures about 36 feet by 24 feet. The new structure will be larger and shaped differently in order to accommodate multiple purposes. Friessen Development will share plans and development timelines in the coming months, Vognild said.

“As we look to the future, we wanted to keep the history but to do it using a sustainable structure that has a long-term use. This will truly be a better gift to the community,” she said. “We also plan to share some of the original barn-wood pieces with families whose parents or grandparents resided on the homestead, so they, too, can enjoy and preserve some of their personal family memories.”

Lake Lorraine to dismantle, repurpose old barn

The developers at Lake Lorraine are dismantling an old barn on the property and plan to repurpose the wood somewhere else on the property.

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