The centerpiece of Van Horne’s agricultural buildings is the livestock barn, a massive two-story timber structure with a hipped gable roof, which was home to Van Horne’s thoroughbred horses and prized herd of Dutch belted cattle. The historic barn was designed and constructed in 1899 by Edward Maxwell and Sir William Van Horne. The barn is an integral part of the Island summer estate and reflects the importance Van Horne attached to both architecture and agriculture. Its most prominent features are the two twin silos that are capped with conical roofs and Maxwell’s signature asymmetrical ventilators, giving them the appearance of renaissance turrets. When originally constructed, they were clad with wood shingles that have deteriorated over the last 115 years and in some areas, have been replaced with metal sheeting.
With the restoration of the barn, we can proceed to open up more areas of the barn to the public and develop the experiential elements to the Van Horne story. This will allow for greater use and enjoyment by residents and visitors to the region. With increased safe and useable common space it will be possible to provide a wider range of offerings for the venue such as agricultural displays; artisan workshops, interpretative displays, experiential learning for youngsters and community events such as weddings, barn dances, as well as cultural events and celebrations.
In November 2015, an engineering assessment of the condition of the historic structures on Ministers Island revealed significant signs of decay and rot threatening the integrity of the iconic Van Horne barn. Water penetrating the building was identified as the cause of most of the deterioration. A winter storm the following year created major damage to the silos. The extensive restoration work required was conducted by the Department of Transport & Infrastructure and VHEMI in three phases. All three phases are now completed and we will now look to convert the interior of the building to spaces for educational, cultural and community activities and festivals. Your continued support can help make it happen!
PHASE 1 SILO REPAIRS: Replaced silo roofs and vents; tied silos to main barn roof; repaired and re-shingled walls of silos; repaired wooden wall between silos; and repaired supporting columns in the basement livestock area.
PHASE 2 FOUNDATION & WINDOW REPAIRS: Work entailed repairs to eave boards; ends of decaying joists; interior truss; wall repairs; windows; fracture foundation; re-pointing east wall; silo floor repairs; and barn foundation repairs.
PHASE 3 SITE DRAINAGE, ROOF & SIDING REPLACEMENT: Replaced metal roof and exterior panels with cedar shingles to restore the barn to its original design; fixed floor slab to prevent frost action; & improve site drainage.
Special thanks to Parks Canada, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture, New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island Inc. for funding the restoration of the Barn. We would like to thank all of the community for their support and fundraising efforts for the project.