The Black Tavern Barn Restoration Project

   The Black Tavern Barn was constructed sometime during the early 19th century and was the property of Hezekiah Healy, the builder of the Black Tavern. After Hezekiah’s death, his wife, Becca, and two daughters, Clarinda and Becca, inherited the barn along with the rest of his estate. Clarinda married Warren Goodell, and Becca married Albigence Williams. Both families, along with the mother, Becca Healy, lived in the Tavern for a short period of time, and when the families began to grow, Becca Williams and her husband, Albigence, moved to Keekamoochaug farm on Healy Rd. That farm still is presently owned and occupied by the Williams family. The Goodell family of Warren, Clarinda, and their children, Waldo, Anson, Edwin, and Charles, continued to live in the “Tavern.” During this time, Warren utilized the “annex,” or white portion attached to the barn, as a shoe shop.  Ownership of the Tavern, barn, and “annex” was eventually passed along to Dr. Charles Goodell, the youngest son of Warren and Clarinda. Dr. Goodell continued to use the Tavern as his summer home until his death in 1937. In 1946 his widow passed ownership of the “Tavern” to Nichols College. The college used the Tavern building for various functions until 1983, at which time the building had fallen into disrepair. At this point a group of dedicated and historically minded individuals formed The Black Tavern Historical Society and approached the college about purchasing the building in hopes of restoring it. Fearing large maintenance costs, the college deeded the building to the newly formed society for the price of $1.00. Restoration of the “Tavern” began in 1984, and by 1990 The Black Tavern had reached the point where the building was opened to the public. The Black Tavern is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Around 1980, Nichols College converted the old barn structure adjacent to the “Tavern” into housing for students, and the building continued in this capacity until 2000. During the winter of 2001, it became apparent that the college intended to remove the building for expansion. At that point, the Black Tavern Historical Society once again approached the college and requested that the college sell the property to the society. After negotiations, the barn and the land surrounding it were purchased from Nichols College for $17,000.00 in May of 2002.

In 2003, the interior of the barn was stripped of all non-original materials thus exposing the post and beam construction. In December of 2004, work began to stabilize the foundation of the barn structure.  The front wall of the original stone foundation was bowing into the interior of the barn cellar, resulting in concern over the safety of the structure. The Board of Directors voted to hire out the construction project of replacing the original front stone foundation wall with a new poured concrete foundation wall and stone cap. At the same time it was noticed that the wooden sill over the stone foundation was completely rotted due to constant moisture from poor grading, so when the new wall was installed and the sill replaced, a waterproof membrane and drainage was included in front of the new wall, and the front yard re-graded to avert the water problem that contributed to the original wall and sill failure. 

On June 1st, 2005 the students of the Dudley Elementary School presented an enormous facsimile of a check (it ultimately reached $1,560.57) to the Black tavern Historical Society. With the 3rd grade and their six teachers providing the original impetus, this project called PENNIES PRESERVING OUR PAST, soon included all students, teachers, staff of the Dudley Elementary School, and undoubtedly students’ parents, and grandparents. This gift made possible the purchase of locally milled (band-saw cut) pine plank floorboards that were used for the barn floor. During the spring of 2006, two new tie beams were hand hewed by members of the “Tavern,” and several other beams that were donated were moved to the site for later use. Also during late winter and spring members were removing the old floor and several rotted floor joists, filling up two dumpsters that were trucked away. In June of 2006, the Dudley elementary students came through again with a donation of  $2,017.56 that would be used to purchase the new barn board siding for the front of the barn. During late winter of 2007, work began on the barn restoration in earnest as a contractor was hired to replace the entire structural floor framing including main supporting beams, sills and floor joists. Upon completion of this work, members began installing floorboards that were purchased with the funds raised by the 3rd graders. Upon completion of the flooring, the entire siding on the front of the barn was removed as well as the windows in the barn front and those in the “annex”. The window openings were reframed, and the cross beams, that were cut away when the college converted the barn to housing, were replaced. A window for over the barn door was purchased, and framed to fit. Original barn siding was then reinstalled, and shiplap siding that was purchased with funds from the 3rd graders was installed on the exterior over the original siding. Barn board siding was also replaced on the “annex.” The “annex” was given a fresh coat of white paint, and the area in front of the barn was graded and landscaped. Finally, two large barn doors were constructed and hung using antique hinges purchased for this purpose. In June of 2007, our benefactors the Dudley Elementary students, once again showed the way with another donation of $1,751.24. To date, the total donation by the Dudley school children is $5,329.37.