A Smoky Mountain Barn Raising!

Read how nothing is impossible when it comes to raising a barn with a little bit of community help.

| March/April 1982

  • Building a Barn
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  • Building a Barn
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  • 074-058-01-im2

It's a proven fact: By working together, people can make "impossible" dreams come true.

When Bill Godfrey retired to his western North Carolina farm a few years ago, he brought along an antique horse-drawn surrey that he'd acquired (it was love at first sight!) during a trip to Vermont. However, his new neighbors soon warned Bill of the danger in riding a brakeless buggy around the curving, hilly back roads of the Great Smokies . . . so the relocated Californian decided to search for a way to make his surrey safer.

Before long Bill had hooked up with another buggy enthusiast, and together they designed and built a complete braking system for the carriage. That experience was rewarding enough to cement Bill's fascination with horse-drawn vehicles . . . and his collection eventually grew to include four buggies, two sleighs, two farm wagons, a stagecoach and a covered wagon.

Now Bill knew that his vehicles would suffer if left exposed to the typically wet and stormy weather of that mountain region. For a time he housed his buggies in a neighbor's barn, but when the owner was forced to use that shelter himself, Bill decided to indulge his hobby one step further by constructing a massive outbuilding on his own property.

Planning for a Small Barn

When most folks plan a barn, they try their best to be sure the building will be practical and inexpensive. And Bill Godfrey did indeed choose a design that was utilitarian . . . but it was also aesthetically appealing and downright extravagant-looking! Unfortunately, when Godfrey approached an architectural firm with his plan, the company's engineers claimed that the structure was "impossible to build" . . . despite Bill's knowledge that the Gothic-style barn which inspired his design has been standing on a New York farm for more than 45 years.

Well, nothing gets a stubborn person's dander up like the word "impossible." Deciding to go ahead without the help of the architectural consultants, the chariot collector and one of his neighbors (who happened to be a building contractor) drafted plans for a 40-by-80 foot structure that — when completed — would tower more than three stories high!

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