Remembering my own life in those now-dilapidated structures

To the Editor:

I am writing regarding your July 11, 2019 article entitled “Neighbor of Rustic Barn wants to buy abandoned property.” I grew up on this property and for a number of years I have been saddened to visit Guilderland and see the decay of what had been my family home. Let me begin with a short personal history.

My father, Ralph Spring, owned the farm property on the southwest and northwest corner of Highway 20 and Fullers Station Road from about 1944 to 1976. The farm had belonged to the Coss family until my parents purchased it in 1944. The John Jay-style house, with its broad front porch, was our home, and across Route 20 stood the Dutch barn and an attached two-story calf barn.

In June 1955, an Esso truck, heading west, drove off Route 20, crashing into the northeast corner of the barn, destroying that corner and the huge granary inside. The driver was unhurt; the fuel didn’t explode.  My father repaired the destruction with a farm stand called Springtime Farms. As far as any family can remember, the property was never called “Ralph Spring’s Truck Farm.”

In addition, no one in my family ever lived in the house where Mr. Ryan Caruso now lives. During the time that my family lived in Fullers, the house where Mr. Caruso now lives was owned by the family of Ormand and Tessie Bradt, who had two daughters, Linda and Kathy. Tessie taught second grade at the old Fort Hunter Elementary School, and both girls were very popular and successful at Guilderland Central High School. They both are still alive “out west,” in Colorado.

In addition, the Caruso/Bradt house was never connected by ownership to the house (converted barn) that I grew up in. My father seemed to like to buy and sell property, but he never owned the land and house on the “other side of that seasonal creek.”

Taking a look at the photo included in the article (photo and article by Elizabeth Floyd Mair) you can see the “old Dutch barn” is the most dilapidated of the three included. The small structure on the right side of the photo was an addition built about 1955 by my father.

I learned how to pound nails on that project. My father was a jack of all trades, including slate roofs. The “addition” is still fairly sound structurally.

I am afraid that Mr. Caruso needs to take a closer look at the “old Dutch barn.” Someone (after my father sold the property in 1976) re-constructed (maybe destructed is closer to the truth) the roof of that barn, taking a number of the old hand-hewn beams.

They were beautiful pieces of wood, but many are long gone — to where I do not know. I’ve been told the town of Guilderland was aware that relatives of the owner were doing that removal.

I wish Mr. and Mrs. Caruso the best of luck with their potential project. It is sad to see the state of the property and to remember my own life in those now-dilapidated structures.

Of course, to see the razing of the home owned by the family of former Guilderland Supervisor John Welsh is equally as sad. That was the house my parents brought both myself and my younger brother home to from being born in the hospital (in 1945 and ’46). That was an inn on the Great Western Turnpike and almost certainly built (along with the “old Dutch barn”) about 1810.  It fell to the bulldozer in the last year.

The Welshes purchased the John Jay house at the northwest corner, in 1946 or ’47, when my parents wished to keep their four children, all under the age of 7, on just one side of Route 20. My father, a capable carpenter, converted the calf barn into a two-story home.

Abandoned sometime in the ’80s by the fellow who ran “The Rustic Barn.” the old barn’s metal roofs flap in the wind, and animals make homes in the buildings.

Kent Spring

Portland, Oregon

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