Friday, April 12, 2013

Barn Question: Tower Purpose?

One of the Surviving Barns at 300 Pleasure Drive, Flanders; East Elevation
No, this barn is not in the Village of Southampton. There may be a few rural outbuildings surviving in this over-developed summer colony, but not many. But yes, once again I am writing about something outside Southampton Village. Should I start a seperate blog? That sounds like double the work......hmmm. Unless you all start shouting that you mind, I'm going to "stay the course," and keep doing what I'm doing.

Back to the subject at hand: a very interesting barn in the hamlet of Flanders. This barn is one of several surviving agricultural buildings on what was at least a 15 acre farm a long time ago, and only very briefly.  It is situated on Pleasure Drive, a road which connects Flanders to East Quogue and Westhampton. Originally (or, a long time ago), the property was owned by the Benjamin family. In 1945, Mrs. Ida Benjamin sold the property to Mr. Adrian Allan of Westhampton. Allan had been a NYC stock brocker and decided to have a go at farming - potatos and cauliflower specifically. He failed miserably after giving it his best for a couple of years, maybe because the soil just wasn't suited for it at that location - who knows. So he regrouped and tried again, this time turning the whole operation into a woodwork mill.

South Elevation
The business was almost instantly a success, and expanded rapidly afterwards, even selling wares to NYC department stores. It was known as "Flanders Mill Inc.," and made a wide variety of things, such as common lumber items and trim work, to cabinetry and housewares, like bowls and ashtrays.  Nowadays the property contains other large, contemporary wharehouse type buildings and operates as a top-notch art storage facility.

My question is, why did the barn have a tower? It is a three-story, multi-level, wood-frame structure on a concrete block foundation with a gambrel roof.....and a tall, square tower with a balcony and railing at the top. Was it a lookout to enjoy the Pine Barrens view? Did it house the machinery of a vertical band saw? Did it collect saw dust that could then be drop-loaded into trucks? Or was a water tank somehow involved in the millwork process? These are the questions I pose to you. If you Google the term "barns with towers" you will, of course, see a lot of silos. If you use the term "mill tower" you will, of course, see a lot of windmills. This was neither, and not so terribly old either, maybe circa 1910. Any guesses?

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