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Historic Bozeman barn dismantled

By Colin Cashin, KTVM Reporter, ccashin@ktvm.com
Published On: May 14 2014 06:49:07 PM MDT
Updated On: May 14 2014 11:31:03 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A 95-year-old Bozeman barn is being dismantled piece by piece.

The Manley Barn was built as part of a dairy farm in 1919. The builder hired soldiers coming back from World War I to construct it.

The Manley family bought it in 1936 and owned it until selling the property to a developer in 2001.

Family members looked into restoring it in the late '80s but didn't move forward after estimates neared $1 million.

David Manley is the son of the man who bought the farm in 1936. Manley told us, "It was a big part of your life so I had trouble with that. But if you think about it, a barn's not good for anything but milking cows. If you're not milking cows there's not a use for it."

The barn may be disappearing but its wood is being collected and will find new life as recycled and reclaimed building material.

Vance Vanderpan owns the Rustic Wood Hub in Belgrade, a company specializing in bringing down buildings with old growth lumber. He tells us he was happy to take on the job of dismantling the Manley Barn.

Vanderpan says, "We got to it just in time before another Montana winter hit."

He and his crews have been working for over a week carefully disassembling the barn.

Vanderpan explained, "They would start at the bottom and work their way up and we'll start at the top and work our way down."

Vanderpan says nearly everything is done with hand tools in order to minimize damage to the lumber. And he tells us nothing is wasted, saying, "Even using the smaller stuff as picture frame material."

Another reclaimed lumber company, Montana Timbers, tells NBC Montana reclaimed lumber came into prominence in the late '70s and early '80s, quickly becoming sought-after as a unique or environmentally friendly alternative building material. Despite the cost, sometimes double that of traditional lumber, demand is steady.

But while Vanderpan says there have been instances of communities that would rather see historic sites preserved and not used as lumber, many times that's just not an option.

Vanderpan said, "They didn't have the funds to re-build them and they were just too far gone."

But Vanderpan tells us he enjoys preserving historic structures in the ways that he can, trimming and washing their wood to be resold to, "The next owner, the next builder, the next person that wants a piece of Montana history in their home."