John Talcott Wells (1843 - 1932), a native of the Town of Wheatland in Monroe County, NY, invented, and patented in 1889, an ingenious method of barn building that departed from traditional post and beam construction. Instead, he used a system of laminated trusses that balanced inward and outward forces, creating soaring, open spaces allowing access to the interior by horse-drawn wagons. The Wells family built at least one hundred of these majestic structures between 1889 and 1946, most of them in Monroe County and Western New York. About fifty of them are still standing, including two in Avon - the Century Barn and neighboring barn on North Avon Road.
Barb Chapman will provide historical background and biographical information about the amazingly talented J. T. Wells. Katie Andres will use vintage photographs and original Wells drawings to describe in detail the structure of the barns and the construction process. Dick Thomas will use his barn photographs to illustrate the importance of Wells Barns in our agricultural history and to our local rural landscapes.
Sunday May 5, 2019
Avon Village Hall
74 Genesee Street Avon, NY 14414
Free, open to the public, and handicap accessible. Light refreshments will be served. Donations are gratefully accepted to support future programs.
Katie Andres is an educator, an Emmy-Award winning television producer with a passion for local projects, and a School Library Media Specialist. She fell in love with her first Wells barn while working weekend weddings at the Avon Century Barn. The awe inspired by the barn’s design, construction, and adaptive reuse served as the catalyst that led her to research the story of its builder, J.T. Wells. Her quest for information led her to historian Barbara Chapman and prompted her to reach out to photographer Dick Thomas for the purpose of documenting the remaining Wells barns in New York State.
Barbara Chapman is an educator whose interest in preservation began when New York State made local history the focus of the fourth grade Social Studies curriculum. She wrote a local history program for the Churchville-Chili schools and served as Town of Chili Historian during the 1980s. Barbara and her husband, Clifford, moved to Wheatland in 1988, where she has written and presented programs and exhibits and conducted school classes and architectural tours for the Wheatland Historical Association. Since 2007, she has served as Deputy Historian and then Historian in the town that was the birthplace of John Talcott Wells and the patented Wells barn truss.
Dick Thomas is a professional photographer specializing in both natural and rural heritage landscapes. He lives with his wife Mary on an old farmstead in Caledonia, New York that they have been lovingly resurrecting. Dick has been photographing barns for years, with the intention of using his images for the preservation of those remaining monuments from the past. His artwork is available at dickthomasphotography.com, or on Facebook at Dick Thomas Photography. He is currently working with Katie Andres and Barbara Chapman to bring about a greater awareness of the remaining Wells Barns and the Legacy of J. T. Wells and Sons.