New Kelly House barn will shield tour groups from inclement weather

New Kelly House barn will shield tour groups from inclement weather

A granite marker designates the area where the former Kelly House barn once stood and will now be replicated thanks to a Champlin Foundation grant.

LINCOLN – The milking parlor barn that once stood next to the historic Capt. Wilbur Kelly House will be replicated next year on the same site it once occupied thanks to a grant from the Champlin Foundation to Blackstone Heritage Corridor, the corridor group announced this week.

The $200,000 grant will return this 24-by-27-foot, post-and-beam barn to the 17-acre landscape of Old Ashton Village, where the Capt. Wilbur Kelly House and Transportation Museum sits on the riverbank.

BHC Executive Director Charlene Perkins Cutler suggests in a news release that the “replica barn will offer additional interpretive opportunities for the Kelly House museum staff and, perhaps most importantly, will provide a place for people to gather, hear and learn.”

For years, the National Park Service rangers assigned to the Kelly House have struggled to offer tours of the small museum when the weather is too cold or rainy for students to gather outdoors.

“Having the replica barn,” suggests Cutler, “will provide a place from which an initial introduction to the museum may occur and, during inclement weather, where busloads of young schoolchildren may gather to await their turn on the tour.”

She’s also pointing out that the Blackstone River State Park where the Kelly House sits off Lower River Road is one of six areas specifically mentioned in the legislation of the new Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.

She said, “The Kelly House will be a focal point for NPS ranger activities and programs. The barn will be a critical element in delivering those programs. It is also anticipated that many more people will visit the site when it is part of the NPS system and the barn will provide additional space for special events, shelter from inclement weather, and, most importantly, complete the complex of buildings that was originally on the site.”

Lincoln’s Al Klyberg, who lives across the canal from the house and managed the museum for years, said the last barn standing next to the house was a Victorian-era design that eventually blew down in a storm.

In its heyday, the barn that’s being replaced held milking equipment, while another barn next to it housed the cows.

This Old Ashton Village was the original village center for Lincoln, he said, and once included a stone mill building and later a tenement for 10 families. The center of operations shifted to the Cumberland side of the river in the mid-1800s with the building of the brick Ashton Mill that remains today as an apartment complex.

Klyberg, who said he imagines the cows provided dairy products for the village, said he’s looking forward to seeing the farm factory aspect of the industry incorporated into the guided tour of this site.

According to Cutler, funding for the architectural design was largely provided through an agreement with the Department of Environmental Management and the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone. The design was completed in 2016 by Northeast Collaborative Architects, whose team is highly recognized for its work with historic property elements.

BHC will use The Champlin Foundations grant to construct the replica barn and has secured partnership agreements with the state of Rhode Island Properties Committee and the Department of Environmental Management to facilitate the construction activity on the state park property.

When complete, the barn will become the property of the DEM and will be operated and maintained as part of the Kelly House and Transportation Museum.

Cutler said BHC will issue a request for construction proposals in January 2017, with construction anticipated to begin in the spring of 2017.

A surviving picture of the last barn, at left, suggests the style of the new barn project.