When the Niblo property was recently sold for housing development, the City of Dallas required that the limestone escarpment it was built upon be retained as city land, and was thus able to protect the buildings remaining on the site. These buildings may well be two of the oldest on their original sites within the city: a two-crib log barn and a one-room log house with an associated hand-dug well and root cellar, both believed to date to the 1850s. In addition, the site is the home of a 1920s plank barn. As to the origins of the farmstead, the Peters Colony land grant from the Republic of Texas was made in 1837, when Everhard Sharrock, Jr. and three family members received land grants. In December 1850, their property in the colony was surveyed and recorded at 640 acres. The land was later sold to Thomas Young in 1853, and remained in the Young family until 1934, when it was sold to Grady Niblo. In an effort to conserve this piece of history, Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture was commissioned by the City of Dallas to undertake a Master Plan for the land. The Center for Heritage Conservation was asked to support this work by recording the buildings and features according to Historic American Buildings Survey standards.
Principal Investigator David Woodcock, with Bob Warden and Marcel Quimby, FAIA, made an intensive preliminary survey in December 2006 and a contract was negotiated through the Research Foundation. Field work began in March 2007 using Center graduate students. The farmstead was the subject of the ARCH 647 Recording Historic Buildings class in summer 2007, marking the thirtieth year of such class work offered by the Department of Architecture. The summer student team involved graduate and undergraduate students from Architecture, and two graduate students in the Nautical Archeology program, eager to extend their knowledge of heritage documentation.
Recording continued through June, using a combination of hand drawing and measuring, digital photography, total station surveying, and use of the Center’s 3D laser scanner. This latter tool is especially valuable at the severely deteriorated plank barn, where hand measuring would not only be difficult, but hazardous.
Architect Marcel Quimby worked with Structural Engineer Steve Lucy, a Professional Fellow of the Center, to devise stabilization for one crib of the 1850s barn where logs have fallen, and to add support to one side of the log house that is in danger of collapse.
Since the land has not been farmed for over forty years, the barns were largely obscured by trees and brush, and the City of Dallas assisted in partial clearance. Serious storms in May 2007 resulted in significant damage to the trees on the site, but fortunately the buildings suffered only minor damage.
The complete set of drawings include a site plan, as well as plans, sections and elevations of each of the three buildings, and was completed by December 2007. This project demonstrates the Center’s ability to work with professional firms in support of preservation projects in a way that also enhances the university’s academic program.
– David Woodcock