They Live in a Barn!

A family trades the suburbs for a quirky 19th-century agricultural building and hobby farm in Harrison.

Stephanie and Bobby Masland’s 1819 dairy- barn-turned-home was moved from Minot to Harrison in 1999 and rebuilt with most of its original materials.

Stephanie and Bobby Masland’s 1819 dairy-barn-turned-home was moved from Minot to Harrison in 1999 and rebuilt with most of its original materials, including hemlock framing. Antique farm tools also remain, such as an iron hay grapple that hangs from the living-area’s 50-foot-tall ceiling.

By Sara Anne Donnelly
Photos by Sean Litchfield
From the Spring 2023 issue of Maine Homes by Down East

About a month after Stephanie and Bobby Masland moved from a Boston suburb to an 1819 English dairy barn in Harrison in 2020, there was a knock on the door. “This is the ultimate adventure house,” said the visitor, Scott Hatch, who’d converted the barn into a home and lived there for 20 years. “As long as you’re up for an adventure, you’ll do all right.” Hatch showed the Maslands the many work-arounds for the barn’s appliances and systems, most of which he’d saved from the dump, and offered to be a phone call away for the inevitable follow-up questions. They haven’t been able to track him down since. Adventure, indeed.

During their first few months in the barn, the power went out, the pipes froze, snowmelt leaked into the basement, and the water heater failed. A porcupine invaded, followed by a colony of bats. One morning, the kitchen faucets wouldn’t turn off. “All the stuff that you could imagine going wrong was happening to us,” Bobby says. “But you just deal with it. I always said that if I’m going to move to the middle of nowhere, I want it to be to the most ridiculous house you’ve ever seen. And here we are.”

Clockwise from top left: Ruddy stools from Portland’s ReStore, an inherited hutch repainted by Stephanie in Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke, and a Pekin named Jemima Puddle-Duck provide lively counterpoints to the kitchen’s existing antique Monson Burmah Slate Co. sink and mahogany island fashioned from an antique ship hatch. A custom chandelier comprising elk and deer antlers and a catwalk set off with reclaimed wrought-iron fencing crown the living area, whose eye-catching velvet sofa came with the house. A paper-mâché goose from Norway’s Great Kingdom Emporium soars above a living-room table the Maslands made from boards found in their 18th-century carriage-barn’s hayloft. Stephanie relaxes in the parlor, where a 1950s cherry coffee table from Windham’s Den of Antiquities, an 1872 marriage armoire, and her grandmother’s antique rug mingle with a striped Pottery Barn armchair bought for $1 at Gorham’s Goodwill Buy the Pound.

Hatch, a barnwright, salvaged the barn in Minot in 1999, moved it to Harrison, and reassembled it on a hillside along the Crooked River. To the eight-acre property, he later added an 18th-century carriage barn and a four-stall horse stable. In the primary barn, Hatch cobbled together a simple domicile, plumbing and wiring the place and installing a pair of baths, rigid insulation, a few walls, a catwalk, crude stairs, and a 22-foot-tall granite fireplace. Other owners added two more baths, a woodstove, proper stairs, and, curiously, a surround-sound theater on the mezzanine. But they mostly kept the barn aesthetic, which is what attracted the Maslands, who relocated with their sons, Gabe, 16, and Judah, 13. The structure’s rough-sawn wood floors are worn to rippling by decades of cow hooves. A 200-year-old hay grapple hangs like an arcade-game claw from the living-room’s 50-foot-tall ceiling. The stairwell in a former grain silo still looks silo-y with curved walls of cedar shiplap. This is not a house with barn accents. It’s a barn with house accents. Stephanie sought to balance the “masculine space” with “more feminine pieces, softer colors, and mellower lines as opposed to everything being square and brown.” Much of the décor was thrifted or salvaged and restored by the couple. There’s an emphasis on coziness and comfort, with plush armchairs in faded pastels, an army of throw pillows, blankets, and area rugs, and, facing the central fireplace, a showstopping emerald velvet Chesterfield sofa they bought from the seller. “I have wanted pretty much that exact couch forever,” Stephanie says.

Shortly after moving in, the Maslands bought dairy goats, Indian Runner and Pekin ducks, a rooster, and a slew of Polish chickens, mostly because Bobby thinks their bouffants are funny. Then they commenced farming. Stephanie, a former equestrian, has some experience caring for farm animals. But Bobby? “My mother used to say I’d never be a farmer because I don’t like blood and wouldn’t like dealing with the realities of the farm,” he says. “But I’m having fun with it. With enough screws and YouTube, you eventually figure it out.”

Last April, after watching and rewatching animal births on the British documentary series Clarkson’s Farm, Bobby and Stephanie awoke near midnight to cries from their electronic goat monitor. In the cool of their moonlit carriage barn, they helped their Nubian, Marigold, deliver twins. Afterward, Bobby cleaned their gooey fur and stroked their small heads as they toddled between him and their mother. “It was a nine out of ten gross,” he says. “But it was doable.”

Down East Magazine, March 2024 cover

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