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Photography by Ulf Skogsbergh
Photographer Ulf Skogsbergh poses for a photo-op in front of one his photographs that was exhibited at Sayre Barn Grand Reopening Saturday, June 14, 2014
Museum Director Tom Edmonds and TV Host Cognac Wellerlane pose for a photo-op at Sayre Barn Grand Reopening on Saturday, June 14, 2014
A mixture of Southamptonites mingled together to celebrate the grand opening of The Sayre Barn on Saturday, June 14, 2014. After many years of standing and weathering the elements
the dilapidated Sayre Barn needed a little assistance in getting back to its orignal state.
Concerned that the building, which is now owned by the Southampton Historical Museum, would continue to deteriorate until it was no longer standing, museum officials last year agreed to take action and restore it.
The Sayre Barn will be used for several historical museum events throughout the year, and it is opening was a grand success with a photography show by local photographer Ulf Skogsbergh, who has spent the past nine months documenting its restoration.
“What is great about Ulf’s project is that he documented all of the mess,” museum director Tom Edmonds reveal during our interview. “So we are going from a mess to a beautiful multipurpose space.”
The barn was built in 1825 by the Huntting family and sold to Isaac Sayre a year later. At that time, it was at the corner of Main Street and Hampton Road and used for livestock. According to the museum, it used to be known as the “billboard” barn because posters identifying wanted criminals and runaway slaves from the South, and also advertising help wanted and upcoming events, like the circus, were posted on the facade.
The barn was later owned by the Dimon family and became an antiques store in the 1930s, when most of the changes, like new windows, a loft and a staircase, were made.
After World War II, the family gave the barn to the Southampton Colonial Society, which later became the Historical Society, which is based at the museum. In 1952, the organization moved the barn onto its property on Meeting House Lane by rolling it, on logs, down Main Street. Soon thereafter, it became the museum’s dry goods store and a tourist attraction.
In the 1990s, a drunk driver crashed into it and in making repairs, new wood was used to replace the old. The structure was closed to the public in 2008 because it had deteriorated so badly.
For the renovation project, the historical museum used the services of Strada Baxter Design Build of Amagansett, a construction firm specializing in historic restoration, to deconstruct the building down to its skeleton, and then rebuild it using whatever original woodwork they could. Where necessary, the group utilized newer materials, melding the pieces together.
“They meticulously saved whatever they could,” Mr. Edmonds said. “It was a very expensive project and very laborious—they re-created it just he way it originally was, they did the right thing.”
Mr. Skogsbergh’s photographs, approximately 30 pictures ranging from standard size to 20 feet long, will be on display at the museum from June 14 through October 18. Admission to the museum costs $4.
“We needed to document this restoration,” Mr. Edmonds said. “To be a proper preservationist you have to document wear and tear, so this will show what these objects looked like in 2013 so that when we look at things again in 2020, we can see deterioration and changes and determine how to fix it. Ulf took the project and went to the moon with it—he took a museum procedure and turned it into fine art.”
The museum plans to utilize the space more often, for example for small gatherings, dances, educational classes, or meetings. More information about the barn and photography exhibit can be found at Southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.
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