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Comment by John W. (Jack) Larkin on November 23, 2010 at 18:28
re barn colors. One thing I can say based on the evidence of landscape paintings and surviving historic structures, is that barns were almost entirely upainted in New England until well after the Civil War.. Ordinary farmhouses were mostly upainted until some time after 1800. Red "milk paint" of course, was comparatively cheap, and was may have marketed to farmers as a way to preserve barns better.
Comment by Nelson Dionne on March 22, 2010 at 6:26
Currently have just begun a project to research French-Canadian child labor at the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Co & other Salem MA factories circa 1910. The base of the project is photos & a report written in 1911 & found on line , I expect that a report will be published in the Franco-Ameerican Inst. of Salem's Newsletter next year.
Comment by pleun clara bouricius on August 13, 2009 at 10:45
I am trying to figure out (with many, apparently) why NE barns are traditionally red and how they were made red, and am coming up with many and varied answers, but none from an authoritative source. Unfortunately I moved a week ago and all my books are packed in boxes and inaccessible. Can you shed light or do you know where to send me?

A summary of what I found

1) “ancient European” versus nineteenth-century American practice
2) milk paint with lime v linseed oil and turpentine mixture with
3) Ox blood (wealthy farmers– presumably the looks of it) v. Ferrous oxide (cheap and anti-fungal? IS FO antifungal?)

I want to believe the antifungal biz-since linseed oil certainly was readily available and attracts fungi, as I know from my own old house carpentry practice. Would not milk or ox blood attract same or is that mitigated by the lime? I don’t know how readily turpentine was available in NE before widespread large scale commerce. Doesn’t it come from the South -- or was it also made with local pine sap? Also, would not milk paint with lime mixed with either ox blood or ferrous oxide produce something pink – despite the darkening that ox blood would do? Are we so used to the red because it has been red paint for 100 years? What role might commerce, perhaps in the form of traveling salesmen (nineteenth century) or catalogs (20th) have played in this?


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