A historic Coventry barn and the individuals responsible for its restoration it are among the dozen people, organizations, and projects that will be honored at the fifth annual Rhode Island Preservation Celebration. The event will take place at the Weekapaug Inn in Westerly from 4-7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29.
The Rhody Awards, chosen by Preserve Rhode Island (PRI) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) from nominations by the public, honor individuals, organizations, and projects for their contributions to the preservation of Rhode Island’s historic places.
The Greene Company of Coventry will receive a Preservation Project Award for their restoration of the Cranberry Processing Barn. Located on Rhode Island’s largest and oldest operating cranberry farm on Narrow Lane, the Cranberry Processing Barn is a rare agricultural structure purpose- built for the storage and processing of cranberries. The barn was erected on the banks of Roaring Brook by the American Cranberry Company in 1890 and expanded by the Summit Cranberry Company in the 1930s.
Cranberries harvested from the nearby bogs arrived at the barn to be poured through chutes on the upper floor, bounced on to a conveyer belt below, hand-sorted, crated, and stored before shipping. After processing activities moved offsite in the early 1960s, the barn fell into disrepair.
In 2005, the Greene Company catalogued and removed the antique sorting and grading machinery in anticipation of a major barn rehabilitation project. After Woodford Bros., Inc. and general contractor George Carpenter made structural repairs, Carpenter fashioned new board- and-batten siding, replaced and repaired wood flooring, repaired the barn doors and hayloft doors, and restored the beadboard partitions. All State Roofing stripped the old shingles, repaired and replaced the sheathing, and installed new shingles.
In the winter, when the cranberry bogs were dormant, Greene Company employees reported for work at the barn. Bog manager Greg Underwood improved site grading and repaired the distinctive metal cupola. Bog workers reglazed the windows, painted and installed the board-and-batten siding, and painted interior surfaces. New gutters, downspouts, and sitework by VIP Seamless Gutters have improved drainage around the barn, and new electrical service by KS Electric keeps the refurbished sorting and regarding equipment humming for public demonstrations.
As the market for cranberries expands, the Greene Company continues to innovate and adapt the latest methods of harvesting and maintaining their bogs. At the same time, the family firm invests in the past. The restored Cranberry Processing Barn preserves a unique aspect of Rhode Island’s rich agricultural heritage.
The Rhode Island Preservation Celebration and Rhody Awards event is open to the public and will feature local beverages, appetizers, a silent auction and a raffle. Tickets cost $30 in advance or $35 at the door. To buy a ticket or request more information, call (401) 272-5101 or visit www.preserveri.org.