MiVT: Knobb Hill Joinery

BETHEL, Vt. (WCAX) If you've driven around Vermont, you've most likely seen small barns that may be a little run down. But one carpenter is traveling the state giving them a Made in Vermont pick-me-up.

An 1800s barn in Bethel is getting a new lease on life thanks to Seth Kelly.

He's been in the restoration business for nearly 20 years as co-owner of Knobb Hill Joinery. And it all started with an invitation to a barn raising outside of Montpelier. "It's the first time I saw a timber frame. And like most people I was like, oh my gosh, that's like the coolest thing I've ever seen," Kelly said.

So the aspiring mason became a carpenter. He gained experience taking classes and working jobs throughout New England before finding that perfect fit for him and his family in Vermont. "You could do that for the rest of your life and be just fine," Kelly said.

Restoring large dairy barns can come with a hefty price tag, so only two of Knobb Hill Joinery's clients are farmers. Most are homeowners who want to use the smaller barns on their property for things like wineries or just plain storage. "I myself love these 30 x 40 barns because they're small and you can manage them," Kelly said.

He hasn't kept track of how many barns he's restored over the years, but he has been from one end of the state to the other. The restoration is the easy part. Most of his time is spent analyzing what needs to be fixed.

"The rafters are coming in, they're pushing those in," Kelly, says, points out the Bethel project. "These ones, the early ones, it's like they're figuring it out and there's just much more hand work."

Restoring barns over the years, Kelly has gained an appreciation for that traditional style which he now implements in the new frames that he builds. "Especially in this day and age, when everything is getting so technical. It's nice to try and go back to more simpler stuff," he said.

These barns are Vermont's pathways to the past and Kelly spends his time making sure they are strong for the future.