December 9, 2012

Author Q & A: Barn praising

An appreciation for old joinery leads a writer to dig deep into storehouses of Maine heritage.


(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Don Perkins traveled all around the state to explore barn designs and evolution.

Courtesy photo

I get asked all the time if I know of a barn that someone can get married in. Barns are just romantic places.

Q: You mention that a lot of barns are made up of two barns put together. How did they do it?

A: That was a surprise to me, too. Buildings were rearranged all the time.

You see some old photos that show teams and teams of oxen hauling a building. They either put rollers under them to assist in dragging or did it when the ground was frozen, but it must have taken skilled crews and lots of patience

Of course back then they didn't have to deal with a lot of things like plumbing and wiring, and with modern building codes about where you could put a building.

Q: Any plans for a sequel?

A: I would love to do one. Photography is one of my interests, and I did do 98 percent of the photos in this book. I would love to do another book about barn photography, with poetry about barns. It would be totally different, like a coffee-table book.

Q: If someone has a barn that they want some detective work done on, is there anyone they should call?

A: They could call me or reach me at and I can put people in touch with someone who can restore a barn if that is what they want. If they need simple research about the history of the building,

I can come by and date a building and give an overall history of the transformations farms went through, whether it was a horse barn or a dairy barn or whatever.

There is a lot you can see just looking at these barns. I see myself as an archaeologist looking at these buildings. I call myself a barnologist. You can tell a lot by the tying joints, by the saw marks on the wood, how things were placed.

Q: How are sales?


A: They are going pretty well. My publisher says 600-odd copies have been sold so far. It is in a lot of the local bookstores. I had a table at the Cumberland Fair and sold a lot of copies, so I think I will go to more fairs next year.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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