To Restore, Divine

To Restore, Divine

Getting Around -- 1885 barn transformed, hosts historical society, serves as art studio.

How times change!

While actually standing on a magnificently polished, light oak dance floor, in an 1885 barn, memories surfaced of doing a story here about a white owl that had taken up residence in the cupola in the late 1970’s.

“I had heard about that,” commented Jack Devine, present owner of the lovely red barn with white trim. Peering down from what was once a hay loft and is now the office of Artists Circle Fine Art of which he is president, Devine saw a coterie of Montgomery County Historical Society “Generous Donors” invited for a reception in their honor by the society.

THE THREE-STORY bank barn was originally built by Harrison Ward on the property where he and his wife, Ara, lived in the adjacent farm house Ward built.

In 1999, Joanna and Jack Devine bought the property, including what was called “a fanciful farmhouse,” when it was constructed in 1885 and featured an octagonal tower on one side. Jane C. Sween, retired librarian of the historical society, advised that the property had been owned by only three previous families. The Harrison Wards sold it to the William Wards in 1929. The Ralph (Benny) Counselmans (he was a former MFH Potomac Hunt 1950-51) bought it in 1946 and sold it to W. Halbert Poole in 1948. It was from the Poole estate that the Devines purchased the former working farm.

“There was still a lot of hay in the barn when we bought it,” Joanna Devine said. “We pulled it all out, piled it in the yard and invited kids from all around to come and make a hay fort. It lasted a couple of years,” she recalled.

The interior of the barn’s main section features the original oak and hickory pegged beams. The underneath, which is used primarily for storage, has partial dirt flooring. “We didn’t do a whole lot with that other than to add some support columns,” Jack Devine said.

PRESENTLY SERVING as an exhibit and office space for Artists Circle Fine Art, a firm specializing in selection, acquisition and placement of artwork representing artists nationally and internationally, the renovation also conforms to other Devine interests. He participates in Irish stepping dance and his wife is active in classical ballet. “Our next project is to get a removable floor covering, suitable for ballet”, Joanna said

There were no takers this evening, but steps leading up to the cupola, where the snowy owl once lived, are readily accessible. “You can see Tysons Corner from up there,” Jack Devine said.

In all his wisdom, the snowy owl preferred Potomac.