A Forgotten Farm

A Forgotten Farmfeatured

Bryarton Farm

All summer we have been trying to figure out the best way to repair all of the damage to our neglected farmhouse and barn. We have so many things, including the kitchen, that need to be addressed on such a small budget. However, we are currently spending all of our time and money addressing issues that were hidden behind vinyl and aluminum.

forgotten farmhouse


We have done so much to the interior of the farmhouse, but I am embarrassed to show you what the exterior of it really looks like. But I guess that it is all a part of the journey, so here goes. Keepin’ it real today, people!

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In this post we wanted to share a few things we have learned in the process of owning and fixing up two historic homes. I am going to quote expert Scott Sidler heavily in today’s post because he says it so well. He is a great resource for historic home owners and really anyone who is serious about maintaining their home as it ages. You can check out his amazing blog at thecraftsmanblog.com

We want to discuss what have been two of the biggest threats to our 1893 farmhouse. You might be surprised at what they are…


1. Vinyl Siding

Our vinyl siding is not very old yet it is cracked, warped, and covered in mildew, not to mention UGLY. These are actually the least of our worries though. The real issue is what is going on under this plastic cover. When it comes to your home, don’t try to take the easy way out, because there is NO such thing as a “maintenance free” home.

122 year old maintained wood siding          Problems hidden under vinyl siding

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Here is what Sidler had to say about the dark side of vinyl siding…

“Vinyl siding is sold as a no maintenance product because it is rot proof, insect proof and it doesn’t need to be painted. But the problems begin almost immediately. First, vinyl siding doesn’t allow a house to breathe. When you remove vinyl siding from a historic home you will probably find wet, spongy, and rotted wood siding underneath. Inevitably, the vinyl siding got some moisture behind it sometimes from rain seeping in and sometimes just from water vapor trying to escape the house.

Since water vapor can’t get through the vinyl it just sits on the wood siding and turns it into a mushy mess that termites love. But don’t worry, you’ll never know that you have termites because while they munch away at your home the evidence will be completely hidden behind your “perfect vinyl siding”. Vinyl siding hides all kinds of ills which, along with it’s inexpensive price, is what makes it so popular. Unfortunately, you and your inspector will never be able to know there is a problem lurking beneath until it’s far too late.”

This last line has been especially true for us. We had the farmhouse inspected before we bought it, and as far as we knew the house was protected from the rain.


2. Cheap Strom Windows

Storm windows can be a good thing if they are a well made model, installed correctly, and the windows beneath are properly maintained. However, all too often this is not the case.

We were so devastated to find that our beautiful original 1893 windows were severely damaged when someone haphazardly slapped cheap storms over our farmhouse’s windows. Many of the screens were left open and the weeping holes caulked shut. This secretly trapped moisture for decades and caused the sills to rot.

Maintained 1893 window


A window covered and forgotten

forgotten window

You might think that a window that is this old and forgotten isn’t worth saving and should just be replaced, but listen to what the expert Scott Sidler has to say about replacing vs. repairing historic windows…

“Metal, vinyl, double-paned, triple-paned, and argon filled windows, are promoted as the solution to a drafty old house and damaged windows. And they do work for a short time. These new windows can be extremely efficient; however, they have a few major flaws that make them a bad choice.

First, is longevity. Many of these windows only come with a 10, 15, or 20 yr. prorated warranty. That’s great, but what happens after that? Not that you’ll be in the house then, right? Just because you might not be there doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

Your historic wood windows were designed when families planned to live in a house for generations. There are countless original windows in homes built not just in the 19th but 18th and 17th centuries that are still in service today! Because of their superior design and materials, repaired plus properly cared for, these windows can last indefinitely.

Secondly, removing your home’s original windows inevitably destroys the character of a historic house. New windows were designed for new houses. And while there are companies that make windows that look like historic ones they are still not quite up to par. Lacking this major architectural element almost guarantees a lower resale price for a historic home. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking newer is better. On an old home this is rarely the case.”


I hope this was an eye-opening post. I know we are learning so much through this crazy process of restoring our 1893 farmhouse to its former glory. Believe it or not, though bringing a forgotten farm back to life can be super stressful, we are having a lot of fun too.

Let us know what projects you are working on and what crazy things you have found left from the previous owners of your home in the comments section below. We love sharing our journey with you and we hope that you enjoy seeing our adventures, hiccups, and design ideas along the way.

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