OLD BARNS, NS
When Beau Blois looked at the old barn with rotten floors, crumbling sills and drab metal siding he saw the opportunity to restore an historic landmark.
Blois grew up in Gore, and remembers seeing the Old Barns round barn as his family drove to Truro. In 2010 he was moving back to Nova Scotia and noticed the property was for sale.
“It was in pretty rough shape, and was full to the rafters with old hay, but I was taken with the shape and location, and wanted to maintain it as an agricultural landmark,” he said. “I grew up on a farm and wanted to be on a farm again, and as an emergency department doctor I need to be close to the hospital.”
Family, friends and community members helped with restoration of the building, which is actually octagonal in shape.
The barn had original been built with a stone foundation, and stones had begun to cave into the basement, so a concrete foundation was added.
Using wood from trees cut and milled on his family’s property in Gore, Blois had the rotten floor replaced with a floor made of hemlock and the metal siding replaced with hemlock board and batten. The old cupola, which was in bad shape, was removed and replaced with a new one.
“That was challenging because we had to build the new one on the ground and have it fit perfectly,” said Blois. “When we got it up there it fit like a glove. I’m really happy with the way things turned out. It took six years. I don’t think anyone knew how much work it would be.”
He and his wife, Laura, got married in the barn and they’ve held children’s birthday parties in it. His long-term plan is to rent the second floor out for events.
The barn measures 58 feet from side to side, and 48 feet from the floor to the cupola, and now has bright red doors and trim. Blois plans to begin construction on a house that will match the barn, with wooden siding and natural colours, soon.
He also has a herd of 22 grass-fed black Angus on the property, which he has named Round Barn Farm.
The Round Barn
The barn was built around 1886 by farmer Samuel James Kent. It was used to house cattle.
The design was based on the principles of Orson Squire Fowler, a nineteenth century phrenologist who believed round shaped building would contribute to the owner’s mental and emotional well being.
This barn is one of only two remaining octagonal barns built before 1914 left in Nova Scotia.
It is listed on the Canadian register of historic places.