The Kissam barn is home to many of our outreach events: the Sheep to Shawl Festival, the Annual Wine Tasting Event and the Apple Harvest Fair. Our school education program “A Child’s Work and Play” and our summer camp, “Passport to the Past”, both designed to introduce children to life on Long Island in the late eighteenth century, are hosted out of the Kissam barn.
Built in 1790 in the nearby farming community of Lloyd Harbor, the barn, currently known as the Kissam Barn, can be historically traced back to the Rogers family, who used the structure on their homestead for livestock housing. Legend has it, however, the barn also housed British troops who were quartered there during the Revolution.
In March 1972, the three-bay barn, measuring 44 feet across the front, 38 feet deep and 30 feet high, was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Grenville D. Braman. The old building was in disrepair. Offered as a gift, with the stipulation that it had to be removed down to clean ground from the Braman’s property, the vintage barn, although having no historical significance, was irresistible to the Society, who immediately embraced the idea of the big old building hosting fund,-raising events, educational programs and exhibits.
A framing plan was drawn and volunteers wrote out 900 numbered tags that were nailed to each joint in the entire main building and adjoining sheep shed. Piece by piece the parts were laid out on a huge flatbed trailer and transported to .the Kissam House. The timbers were stored undertarpaulins for nine months until the society could raise the necessary funds to pay for the reconstruction. Much of the wood had to be replaced and new oak pegs, tenions and mortises had to be hand-hewn as not one nail would be used.
With a fund-raising effort in full stride, $66,000 was raised within 14 months. The Flower Hill Building Corporation of Westbury began to repair and assemble the pieces. A concrete foundation was poured and a stone wall was laid on top of the concrete to simulate the original stone work. The stones, gathered by volunteers, were collected from different locations around the town. Mr. John Hansen, a noted local antique tool collector and long-time builder, volunteered his services to oversee the construction work. Many original tools such as a corner chisel, maul, broad axe and adz from his private collection, were used to repair and re-assemble theoriginal beams. The 500 wooden pegs or “treenails” used to fasten the frame were produced by Mr. Stanley Smitten and his Oceanside High School woodworking class.
The actual “barn-raising” took place in the freezing 15-degree weather on January 31st, 1973. As over 30 devoted volunteers stood by, the 40-ton crane hoisted four two-ton wooden frames or “bents” and swung them into place. Members of the Society gave the occasion as much flavor as it might have had in Colonials days, including an old-fashioned lunch break, where women volunteers dressed in colonial costume brought in steaming trays of baked chicken, beans, breads, cake and coffee for the work crew.
Once the frame was in place the work continued through the spring. The barn received new pine siding, flooring and a new red cedar shingle roof .the doors were fastened in the old manner with crimped-over iron nails and re-hung on the original strap hinges. A wooden ramp was constructed at the main door similar to those found on many Long Island barns. Even today, many parts of the original set up remain intact, including mangers and feedboxes worn smooth over two centuries of use and the horizontal framing of the south bay, constructed as such to prevent the cattle from kicking out the siding.