Bronck Farm 13-Sided Barn, Coxsackie New York

Date added: April 02, 2023 Categories: New York Barn Round Barn
West from Old Kings Road (1984)

The Bronck barn, built c. 1832, is the earliest known central plan dairy barn in New York State. Built for Leonard Bronck and completed by a contractor referred to in secondary sources as Lampman, the concept and design of this nearly round structure appear to have been inspired by the slightly larger round stone barn built by the Shaker community in Hancock, Massachusetts (only 28 miles away) in 1824. Since the Shaker barn was destroyed by fire in 1864 and since no similar examples have yet been identified, this barn is singularly important in interpreting the early evolution of this building type.

In its original configuration, with the no longer extant rectangular west wing, the barn appears to have been organized to incorporate hay storage in the 13-sided portion, with the herd housed primarly in the west extension. The primary advantage for enclosing the mow within such a novel form appears to have been a desire by both the Shakers and Leonard Bronck to achieve efficiency by enclosing a given storage capacity with a minimal amount of material and structure. This would seem to be confirmed in the case of the Bronck barn by calculations which accompany a preliminary plan for the barn, dated 1832. Ease of filling the virtually unobstructed hay mow and a personal desire for status may also have been present in Bronck's decision to build this barn.

Barn Description

The Bronck Farm 13-sided barn is located approximately 75 feet west of Old Kings Road on the grounds of the seventeenth-century Pieter Bronck House. The 13-sided barn is one of seven surviving agricultural structures associated with the historical development and operation of the Bronck farm.

The barn consists of 13 equal sides with a hipped roof surmounted by an octagonal cupola. It is built of frame construction with a clapboard exterior above a partially below grade mortared stone foundation and has an overall diameter of approximately 70 feet, internally, the barn is open in plan consisting only of an earthen floor below grade and a wooden wagon drive at grade level running north-south along the west edge of the mow. Several mangers appear to have been placed in the basement below this drive; however, the bulk of the herd appears to have been located in the missing rectangular wing of this structure.

Structurally the barn consists of mortised timber wall panels built of 8" square posts and lintels with corner braces and 4" square studs. The panels are tied together in a stiff ring at the top plates by squinches bolted through each plate. Roof panels are triangular in shape and are constructed of 8" square rafters connected by four 8" square purlins and smaller 4" square members. A round pole 9" in diameter rises from the floor of the mow to the apex of the roof. Although this member is unnecessary to support the roof (held in compression by its conical shape), it may have been integral in raising the barn. A small round opening at the apex of the roof allows ventilation of the mow upward through louvred vents in the cupola. The cupola retains an original weathervane and lightning arrester. The barn is in good condition; however, its integrity has been partially compromised by the loss of what appears to have been an original rectangular wing at the west side of the present structure.

Bronck Farm 13-Sided Barn, Coxsackie New York West from Old Kings Road (1984)
West from Old Kings Road (1984)

Bronck Farm 13-Sided Barn, Coxsackie New York Detail of cupola (1984)
Detail of cupola (1984)

Bronck Farm 13-Sided Barn, Coxsackie New York Interior showing wall framing (1984)
Interior showing wall framing (1984)

Bronck Farm 13-Sided Barn, Coxsackie New York Interior showing roof framing (1984)
Interior showing roof framing (1984)