Basalt starts restoring a piece of its history |

Basalt starts restoring a piece of its history

Scott Condon/The Aspen TimesWilliam Bailey, on ladder, and John Ross carefully remove original metal roofing from the 100-year-old Arbaney Barn in Basalt. They are salvaging whatever materials they can and replacing others in a restoration of the structure.

BASALT, Colorado – Work has started on a nearly $134,000 project to rehabilitate the Arbaney Barn in Basalt and turn it into a living museum and showcase for the town’s ranching heritage.

William Bailey, owner of Historical Applications Inc., and John Ross are carefully pulling the building apart and meticulously stacking materials from the 100-year-old barn. All materials that can be salvaged will be used in re-assembly. Some of the logs in the structure must be replaced, Bailey said.

The two workers were pulling galvanized metal panel roofing off last week. The roofing nails were pounded in and bent over, making the removal difficult. The building was built well.

“There’s a reason it’s been standing for 100 years,” Bailey said.

The two-story barn had a hay loft on the second floor. A rare hay hook still hangs in the mound door. The hook was swung outside the door on a hay rail, then a block and tackle would be used to lower the hay hook, which was positioned around a bail and then hoisted up. The hook was then swung into the mound along the rail.

The ground floor was either a milking parlor or had stalls for livestock.

Bailey said he combined his love of history with his aptitude in the building trades to start his company renovating historical buildings. He refurbishes old, historical buildings like the Arbaney Barn and gets commissioned to create replicas of structures using period construction techniques. The Basalt Regional Heritage Society hired Bailey to rehab the barn.

The Basalt barn was once part of the ranch of the Emery Arbaney family, which bought the property in 1909, according to the heritage society’s website. The barn was likely built by the Arbaney family with help from neighbors, according to Bailey. The ranchers were adept at inventing construction techniques to suit their needs. “It’s got some cowboy engineering in it,” he said.

Work will be progressing throughout the summer. The heritage society is looking for volunteer labor – from workers in the building trades to people who can provide lunch to Bailey and Ross – from the community. Volunteers can contact Diana Cordova Elliott, president of the heritage society, at 927-4693 to volunteer.

Cash donations are also needed. Nearly $123,000 has been raised for the project. Another $11,000 is being sought. More about the project and the heritage society can be found at

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