North Bennington, VT
Once used for drying food for cattle, the Corn Crib is a unique agricultural building from the 1940s that blurs the line between interior and exterior. After decades of freeze-thaw cycles, the 106 ft long skeleton had fallen into disrepair. With a dual purpose of restoration and the creation of new uses, I am working towards making the Corn Crib into a landscape interpretation space. Inside, an archive will display materials about the agricultural history of the 650-acre farm it once helped support, the Native Americans that lived on the land for thousands of years, the deep geologic history of the landscape, and the "here and now" of this piece of Vermont.
The first phase of work has consisted of restoration work, both by licensed contractors and volunteer labor in yearly work parties. The next phase of work consists of new interventions for use by passers-by. An open archive will present materials from the farm years, Native American habitation before that, and the geologic history of the region. Audio walking tours and historic photos placed in the landscape will give visitors insights into the deep time all around them that would be difficult to access otherwise.
Its foundation rests on land that was once my family's dairy farm, in operation from the 1780s to the 1980s. The farm was sophisticated: self-sufficiency, land management and reforestation were always part of its operation. The land is now divided into many uses under many owners: The surrounding fields are held by a public land trust and used as horse pastures, the field to the east contains a community garden, and the land to the north and south is owned by private parties. A few hundred feet away, a historic mansion and archive provides the link to the history of the place.
What began as a purely architectural project became a cultural one, focused on the people who have interacted with the land over time. The architectural aspects serve this purpose beautifully, since the Corn Crib's walls are delicate metal screens, more permeable than substantive. To look at it is to look through it, which makes it perfectly suited as a place to appreciate and discuss the landscape that surrounds it - both physical and historical.
Created in collaboration with The Fund for North Bennington
With support from the
Vermont Community Foundation
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation