Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Modern Barn-Raising – The Plan and A Community

The concept of barn-raising has all but vanished in our modern society. This event brought together an entire community to assemble a barn for one or more households, particularly in 18th- and 19th-century rural North American. The tradition continues in some Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities.

A barn-raising in a rural area of Ohio, circa 1899.

Our friends, the Talleys, brought up the issue of removing our exterior house tiles at a meeting of the Marion County Historical Society- this in an effort to solicit contractors who could do the work. Almost right away, their newest member, Bob Yapp piped up, “Handle it like a barn-raising. Make it an event, give it lots of press and invite the community in a shared effort!”

Now why hadn’t we thought of this? We’d been so busy looking into contractors (with some hits and some misses) that this concept alluded us altogether. I mean, this is Hannibal – America’s Home Town. The concept of folks helping each other to improve their community is very much alive in Hannibal, with some of the more popular activities being:

- The Loaves and Fishes program which serves hot meals to anyone dropping by a designated church in town.

- A very active Habitat for Humanity program which employs volunteers into building house for those who can't normally afford one, much less rent for one.

- A townwide "Clean Up Hannibal" event where volunteers do just that. Scour Hannibal in search of debris, dumpings and anything else that would hamper the image and beauty of the town.

Apparently, our big-city lives had blinded-sided us to remotely consider the possibility of a community-involved effort. Though similar programs are designed to help those in need, apparently little is done to further neighbor relations in the big city.

You see, back in Seattle we barely knew or spoke to our neighbors even though our neighborhood was fairly dense. Most people were either too busy or too migratory. When neighbors did come forward to greet their neighbors, it was often met with suspicion. In our Seattle neighborhood, neighbors didn’t approach each other unless it is was to request the cutting down of trees, to learn of house-addition plans, or any other thing that might impact their property values.

That’s what it’s all about in Seattle - increasing your property values based on views of a body of water or some other desirable scene. The most valuable homes are located nearly at the water’s edge. Construction of the home is not as important as the view and location in the Emerald City.

This is what we woke up to in Seattle.
City neighborhoods are lush with greenery
which often obscures a lake view

Yapp, being the go-getter he was, called us right away with plans for a media release and a plan. Obviously, he had been involved in similar pursuits so we were only too happy to let him orchestrate the event.

We were now very excited about the project. We lunched with Robert and Pat at the Brick Oven to go over the anticipated event - and to feel each other out.

BTW, the Brick Oven is one of Hannibal’s newest restaurants. The owners, locals in this town, bought a building in the downtown area that housed a then-defunct art gallery and a salon. The concept consisted of making brick-oven baked, thin crusted, hand-kneaded pizza onsite. The restaurant serves other Italian specialties, and was a much-needed and applauded arrival in the downtown area. Here's the restaurant’s link:

We left the restaurant with such goodwill and hope with the Yapps. We are always happy to meet other expatriates like us in Hannibal. And with one of us having attended high school in Hannibal, we also had our old-time friends and acquaintances. Together, this adds so much to our Hannibal living experience. Not surprisingly, our friends and counterparts are mostly located in Hannibal (not Seattle) even though we lived in Seattle for over 20 years.

Bob dispersed a flyer to the media in Hannibal, Quincy and even NPR. Here's the artwork used for the flyer.

The line drawing was done by an artist for an article
on the death of Laura Hawkins in the
Hannibal Courier-Post, December 26, 1928.

So in the tradition of an Amish barn raising or in this case an Unveiling, Hannibalians (particularly those interested in progressing the historical restoration interests in town) were to come out to the party.

Here's the writeup in the Courier-Post the day before:

Next post, the Barn-Raising is accomplished in One Day.


Robert said...

I enjoy your blog. You are killing me by not putting in a picture of the house after the asbestos was stripped off.

Laura Resurrectors said...


Believe it or not, I've been so snowed under by my workload (had to hire myself four employees!), I had to abandon my blog totally for awhile.

I hope to start posting again in a week or so.

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