What’s a Long Legged Barn?
If you travel the back roads of Baldwin County, around Magnolia Springs, you may have noticed a change in the scenery recently. WATERSHED worked with the Weeks Bay Institute for Sustainable Agricultural Preservation (WISP) to create a new outdoor classroom and event space out of a long empty barn that, until last month, was nothing more than a charmingly decayed roadside landmark.
In 1969, Wendell Berry wrote a short essay, The Long Legged House, about a beloved river camp that he partially deconstructed, moved, and rebuilt over time. The camp provided him with a place of retreat and reflection throughout his life. This essay became our inspiration for the Long Legged Barn.
WATERSHED and FMS Engineering helped WISP move the barn to its new home, elevate the structure, strengthen its old bones, draw in daylight and breezes, and prepare it for a new life on the organic farm. It took exceptional care to raise and move the old structure, but what better place for children to learn about farming methods that preserve the health of our soil and water, than in this barn that bears the marks of so many seasons on the land?
Weeks Bay Plantation offers outdoor activities and events throughout the year. The barn hosts field trips of the working organic farm, where local school children dirty their hands and delight their taste buds. Nature Connect Alabama also uses the space for outdoor programs that “unplug kids from technology… and cultivate curiosity, compassion, and connection with the natural world.”
In blueberry season, families drop in and pick a bucket load of blueberries. Some nights, they can linger to enjoy an intimate musical experience under the stars. And throughout the year, the barn hosts magical farm to table dinners with a rotating cast of talented chefs.
Designing for adaptive re-use always opens unexpected windows into the past. As work on the renovations progressed, stories about the barn’s history began to come out of the woodwork. We heard that the relocated barn may actually be the top section of a larger barn, that was removed and relocated decades earlier. We’re honored to have helped the Long Legged Barn on its second journey, and to have prepared it for a new vocation, as a center for environmental education and celebration.