When it comes to barns, there may be no truer phrase than “they don’t make them like they used to.” It is also something John and Kira Olshefski have taken to heart.
Several years ago, the Olshefskis stumbled upon the unique business of reclaiming wood from Midwest barns and saving of part of the United States’ heritage along with it Initially, they had planned on purchasing a barn from the Midwest and reconstructing it on their property. Instead, they found themselves selling the lumber from half a barn in an attempt to recoup their losses when a ‘dismantler’ skipped town with their money and only half the job done. The wood sold so well that John and Kira decided to create American Barn and Wood located at 3460 La Cruz Way,
Paso Robles.
These centenarian structures are comprised of the ‘old growth wood’ that grew untouched in the lands of North America. Some of the lumber can only be found in barns. For example, the American Chestnut is extinct in the wild due to a blight brought over from the Old World. The magnificent trees that would reach heights of 100 feet now longer adorn the American landscape.
California barns are generally made of dug fir and redwood. Midwest barns are constructed of a vast variety of American woods; maple, cherry, chestnut, the list goes on. Basically, whatever trees were on the property when the farmer settled the land.
These trees that were hewed and smoothed by hand were essential in the survival of the first years of a family farm. John explained that people would build their barn and live in them with the animals while they built their homes.
The Olshefskis make sure to preserve the heritage of the barns they reclaim. They draft flyers that describe the history of the structure that goes with the wood purchased. The lumber from each barn is unique due to a host of conditions, weather, soil, latitude as well as the type of wood used. Each barn tells a story of its constructors, occupants and lifestyles. The boards speak of harvest festivals, stolen kisses and initials carved into their bones that seem to whisper as you are, I was.
“We have a historian to research the barns,” said Kira, “and whatever she finds, we write up a story that goes with it.”
It is evident that both John and Kira love what they do for a living. They enjoy meeting and talking to their various customers as much as helping them fulfill their dreams of that perfect fireplace mantel, farm table or rebuilding a home lost to fire.
Learn more at americanbarnandwood.com.