The Barn

hh_barn_winterThe barn is the only free-standing outbuilding still to be found on the Hillary House property. The barn building is integral to the interpretation of Hillary House National Historic Site, and an important (although not commemorated) example of Picturesque Gothic Revival in its own right. Its Picturesque Gothic Revival elements are primarily its vertical board-and-batten siding and fragmentary bargeboard.

The barn, assumed to have been built at the same time as the house, had a later lean-to addition on the east side. A driveshed once extended to the north, while a chicken run was located outside the west wall.

The town barn is a unique building fundamentally important in the history of the Hillary House property. It enabled the doctor to maintain his practice since the majority of his appointments took place in the patients’ homes. The barn housed his horse, supplies and equipment and a sleigh, a gig (a light two wheeled carriage), and a phaeton (a large four wheeled carriage).

Inside, many original features remain, including two stalls and a plastered and wainscotted room referred to traditionally as “Tuton’s House,” once the home of the hired hand, Mr. Tuton. The barn and its interior thus symbolize the important presence of a hired man to help with everyday chores of caring for animals, looking after the grounds, and helping maintain the property generally.

A large storage loft is located above. For the Hillarys, the barn was also used to store hay, straw and feed for the cow which provided fresh milk. It also housed twenty to thirty chickens.
From a landscape perspective, the location and orientation of the barn creates a space between the main barn entrance on the north facade and the south side of the house. This space is generally gravelled to accommodate the parking and turning of vehicles, although the edge of the lawn and driveway was not as clearly defined in the past as it is today. Holly Hillary, one of the sons of Robert Michael, the second Dr. Hillary, remembers a large tree in the centre of the turnaround to which the horse was hitched. After the tree died, the location of the stump was conspicuously marked by mushrooms which grew each year. The Hillarys did not own a car but a cousin, Fred Van Nostrand, frequently stored his car in the barn requiring that an extension be added to the south end. This allowed the car’s crank to be turned from outside of the barn.

A generous bequest from donor/supporter, Vera Clark, allowed for the renovation and rebuilding of the barn, completed in 2007. Attached structures that had been added over the years were removed, and the main barn building was strengthened and restored.