One of the very last things we wanted to think about when we elected to undertake moving a barn from Manilla to Bloomington was the diligence required to ensure that the barn was structurally sound enough to house our future guests. I take that back—it was one of the last things I wanted to think about. My amazing husband is always thinking about those types of reasonable and prudent things. I was too busy picking out chandeliers, selecting just the right chair cushions, scouring the Internet for perfectly patinaed antique décor, and taking mental photography of future beaming couples standing on our barn loft.
When the barn was erected in Manilla, it was largely for a hay storage operation. Stacks and stacks of hay were piled on the loft for 125 years. The 8×8” horizontal beams that support the joists of the loft floor are enormous and would appear to be capable of holding anything you could throw at them (or on them, as it were). One would assume that the load of an inordinate amount of hay bales would far exceed the weight of a few hundred people. One would assume wrong. Come to find out, no mental pictures of weddings in our finished loft were going to come to fruition unless we incorporated some substantial fortification to support the second floor.
To help us with this task, we engaged two structural engineering firms to calculate the ramifications of a human load in the loft. It turns out our old barn’s horizontal beams were about half as strong as they needed to be to get people safely on our second floor. A game plan quickly developed to fortify the loft with metal I-beams on top of the existing 8×8” wooden beams. The way I understand it, the metal I-beams will now carry all of the weight of the loft, which then makes the weakest point the connection of the vertical (wooden) beams and the horizontal (metal) I-beams. That’s where some intense brackets and intense bolts to mount the brackets come in.
The task of making the second floor safe was a bit daunting, but we were lucky to have a dear friend who works in the structural fabrication business. Darrell Jerden of Structural Components Fabrication and his team of mighty men (and women) did a fantastic job measuring, fabricating, and installing our beams. The next step in the job is to add over double the number of joists that were in the original barn, install the tongue and groove poplar flooring upstairs, install stair cases and, finally, install wrought iron banisters. Our I-beams will largely be covered up when it’s all said and done, but we hope that if (and hopefully when) you make it out to visit Whippoorwill Hill’s wedding barn, you will really take notice of how solid that second floor feels under your feet.
For more information on Whippoorwill Hill or booking your event, please call or email us at (812) 327-4218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.