Montjoy Barn

Montjoy barn landscape

Location 11

In 2003, through the efforts of several partners and donors, the Howard County Conservancy saved the historic Montjoy Barn, built in the 1700s. It sat on an 85-acre property in Ellicott City slated for development.

According to Ken Short, an architectural historian, “The barn is a very rare survival and a very unusual frame,” and the only one of its kind in Maryland. It was constructed primarily of old-growth oak, hand-hewn, with wooden pegs. Early hand-fashioned framing joints were made and fitted individually. To keep the parts straight prior to the erection of the frame, the joints were marked with Roman numerals, known as “marriage” marks, because they indicated which pieces were to be joined, or “married.”

The barn and surrounding property had been listed on Preservation Howard County’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites since 2001. The Conservancy preserved the structure with funding support from Winchester Homes, Elm Street Builders, Preservation Howard County and private donors.

A timber-frame expert was hired to painstakingly label and disassemble the barn, move it into storage and begin repairs. In addition, architectural historian Ken Short was contracted to complete a historical and architectural analysis of the barn.

Montjoy Farm was located on part of a 1073-acre tract patented as “Chew’s Resolution Manor” in 1695. Its name, Montjoy, appears in the 1914 deed. Over time, the property was divided. The final 85 acres were sold in 2003. The developer of the property saved the manor house and several outbuildings, but the barn was slated for demolition. Without the Conservancy, Montjoy Barn would have been demolished.

Documentary evidence indicates that the Montjoy Barn was standing by 1798. Several details, however, suggest that the barn is much older than that. For example, the builder was comfortable with earlier construction techniques and employed them during the barn’s construction. Measuring 30 by 50 feet with a steeply pitched roof, the barn was large for its time.

The barn was most likely first used for tobacco, then wheat, and was then moved to its final location and placed on top of a foundation for use as a dairy barn, circa 1815 to 1840.

The barn has been incorporated into the Conservancy’s educational programs and serves as a monument to the agricultural history of Maryland and the incredible craftsmanship of its builder

Moving the barn

Images provided by Conservancy

3D Orbit View

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