Farm Horizons, September 1999

Stable being built in Gothic barn style

By Luis Puga

The style is referred to as Gothic, and it is recognized by the horseshoe shape of the roof. It harkens back to an older architectural style of building barns and stables.

This type of barn was commonly built in the area surrounding Plato by Tim Pinske's great grandfather, Theodore, who settled in the area in the late 1800s.

That legacy lives on at Pinske Stables in southwestern McLeod County.

There, Tim and Marlys Pinske, owners of Pinske Stables, have constructed a Gothic style barn in the tradition of Tim's great grandfather.

Along with that, the Pinskes have added modern touches and amenities for practical and economic reasons, but four generations of woodworkers have shown their mark on this unique structure.

To say that woodworking is in the Pinske blood would be an understatement.

Besides the stables, Tim and Marlys are part owners of Plato Woodwork with their son, Karl, who adds yet another generation of woodworking to the family. Both Tim's father, Robert, and uncle, Edward Jr., were carpenters, as was Tim's grandfather, Edward, before them.

Tim proudly said of this tradition in his family, "We make something with our hands. It's wood. It's all we know."

Initially, the stables at the farm had a structure, part Gothic, built by Pinske's father in the 1960s.

However, the structure was in need of repair, and Tim and Marlys opted to build new. Tim said he chose the Gothic style because, "It's a family heritage."

That heritage is best manifested in two stones that Tim salvaged from his great grandfather's first barn's foundation, built in 1896. The two stones have reverently been placed at the entrance to the new stable.

Tim admits that another reasonto build new was to glean some of that family knowledge from his uncle and father before they pass on. He acknowledged that these men are probably two of the last who know how "it used to be done."

That knowledge is not just one of a charming architectural style, but of practicality and sturdiness that will stand the test of time. In other words, the Gothic style has its practical side.

Take, for instance, the feed storage that will be located on the second floor above the stables. The space is immense, allowing for a great deal of storage that Tim admits he might not need.

This is because there are no trusses or supports needed like other roof structures, but braces that run the contours of the ceiling.

Also, because of the shape of the walls, which are straight up to a certain point, hay bales will be easy to store along the sides of the barn.

The roof shape also has advantages over its more modern counterparts - pitch and hip roofs.

There is no need to worry about snow load on the curved roof, and the design, both in shape and make-up, holds no water.

Tim explains that this is another piece of knowledge from the Pinske heritage. The spacing of the wood frame that holds the wood shingles is specifically designed so that the back of the shingles are exposed to air. This allows the shingles to dry and lengthens their lifespan to 40 to 50 years.

Tim added that these shingles will outlast their modern day counterparts made of asphalt.

Another Pinske original is the wind brace. The north and south sides of the barn have sets of triangular shaped timbers that run the height of the interior of the second level.

At the point of the triangle, they are braced to the wall to strengthen the structure against wind.

This design was handed down by Pinske's great grandfather.

Another family heritage came in the form of the Model T-powered saw rig used to cut the rafters and the radius on the rafters. This device was owned by Theodore Pinske and dutifully served his great grandson while constructing the new barn.

The saying, "They don't build them like they used to" applies to Pinske's stable.

The two-by-fours used in the stable actually measure two by four inches. Modern standards shave off a little of the wood's dimension.

This presented a problem when Tim tried to fit the older, genuine two-by-fours into brackets made for modern day two-by-fours.

Besides that, some of the wood used in the stable has a history. The rafters are home sawn lumber taken from Edward Pinske Jr.'s woods. The wood came from trees that fell in a storm near St. Peter, Minn. and the logs were salvaged and hand cut for the stable.

Tim points out that one can still see the holes where the tree was tapped for maple syrup.

Another piece of history lies underfoot on the second level. The floor joists, the beams that support the second floor, are taken from a school in Waverly that was torn down in the late 1950s.

With a great history of materials and know-how from the past, one might mistake the stable as a replica of an old structure.

However, Tim brought in some of his own know-how, as well. With 40 years of raising horses, he has the hindsight of learning from mistakes.

For instance, he notes that the stable doors will be placed in the middle of the stall. When asked why, he stands and demonstrates that it is easier to lead a horse out of the middle of the stall than on the side.

This also prevents any chance of injury, particularly for the young horses that might get caught up in the stall wall.

Ventilation was also key to Tim Pinske, who knows that livestock need lots of fresh air.

Beyond that, materials on the lower portion will include concrete block; the boards and battens at either end are metal, rather than wood; the stable will be well insulated, and will have electricity.

The modern amenities are necessary, desirable, and practical to raise racing horses.

The Pinskes have had a couple of winners from their stable race in the American National in Chicago. Besides Karl, Tim's other son, Brian, has a taste for horses, as a trainer who shuffles between Florida and Chicago.

Another feature that makes this T-shaped stable unique is its call to the past with wooden pegs in the bracing rather than nails, an old joint technique that Tim has inherited.

As one enters the almost completed stable's upper level, the smell of elm, oak, and maple mingle into one concentrated scent.

Standing 20 feet tall, with the main part 36 by 84 feet and the T-extension 14 by 32 feet, the stable will stand the test of time, Tim expects.

In part, he hopes the legacy will continue not just with the stable, but his whole operation, and that someday it will be a century farm.

Now near completion, Tim will have this monument to his family's heritage to pass on to the next generation of Pinskes.

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