More than post-and-beam frames are built during a Midcoast Conservancy timber frame course at Hidden Valley Nature Center. Partnerships, friendships and new skill sets are regular features of the four-day workshops.
When local businessman Davies Allan learned of the courses, he was inspired to make the experience affordable for anyone eager to learn the craft. So he made Midcoast Conservancy an extremely generous offer to pay half of the course fee for prospective students. All he asks in return is that each person write him a brief statement to explain why they want to take the course. No Shakespearean prose is required, just a genuine explanation of why acquiring timber framing skills is of interest.
As the chairman and founder of the marine construction and engineering firm Chesterfield Associates, a resident of Westport Island, and builder of many beautiful covered bridges, Allan comes by his appreciation of woodworking honestly. A 2018 local project involved moving the historic Boston and Maine Railroad Moose Brook Bridge into place over Trout Brook near Head Tide Village. The bridge, originally constructed in 1918, is a historically significant example of a Howe Boxed Pony Truss bridge, one of only six remaining in North America.
“My interest in timber framing increased tenfold when my firm, Chesterfield Associates, which I started in 1968, was awarded a $4.5 million contract to rebuild the Cornish Windsor covered bridge by the state of New Hampshire in 1987,” Allan said. “We had the pleasure of working with Jan Lewandowski, a fantastic craftsman of great intellect and ability. Three years later we built a new 140-foot covered bridge near Dover-Foxcroft for the state of Maine. That bridge we moved two miles down a state highway, and placed it where the Low’s Covered Bridge once was.”
Longtime benefactors of builders, Allan and Chesterfield Associates have been financial supporters of the Timber Framers Guild throughout the years.
Timber framing, sometimes referred to as post-and-beam building, is a historic way of building that uses specific joinery to erect a building made from large beams. The buildings are both rugged and beautiful. Timber frame construction can be a satisfying way to make use of harvested trees from personal woodlots to build a shed, barn, or even a house.
Each course is a four-day, hands-on experience, where eight students have the opportunity to build a complete timber frame and participate in every step of the process from harvesting trees to raising the finished structure, working with two expert instructors to learn the basics of sustainable forestry and saw mill operation, building design principles, and hands-on building techniques for constructing a simple frame.
The spring class is full, however, two more courses are scheduled for July 8-11 and Oct. 8-11. Full tuition is $450 for Midcoast Conservancy and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association members and $500 for all others. Tuition includes use of all necessary tools and a Midcoast Conservancy membership.
Complete information and registration is available at midcoastconservancy.org/explore/events.
For more information about Midcoast Conservancy, go to midcoastconservancy.org or call 389-5150.