Local company wins national award for Updike Farmstead barn renovation

The Wojciechowicz Barn at Updike Farmstead on Quaker Road in Princeton, at the headquarters of the Historical Society of Princeton.
The Wojciechowicz Barn at Updike Farmstead on Quaker Road in Princeton.

Baxter Construction has won a national award for the the renovation of the Wojciechowicz Barn at the Updike Farmstead in Princeton. The company won the “commercial specialty”national contractor of the year award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry this month.

The renovation project for the Historical Society of Princeton was completed in June of 2017. The renovation involved structural work, including restoring the entire barn foundation, replacing the barn’s roof, and stabilizing the east wall. The final phase of construction included sealing the structure with restored doors and windows, pouring polished concrete floors, making the building handicap accessible, adding bathrooms and a kitchen, and installing electricity, plumbing, wireless internet, and lighting so that the barn could be used for public programs and events.

Dozens of community supporters made the renovation possible, including leadership donors Scott and Tracy Sipprelle, Betty Wold Johnson, and the Wojciechowicz family.

Built by the Updikes immediately after the family moved to the 200-acre farm in 1892, the Wojciechowicz Barn is an example of the hybrid American barn style. The barn is built entirely out of old-growth hemlock lumber, and some beams are nearly 500 years old. The beams are remarkable for their length and quality, and almost all of the original wood was preserved during the renovation.

“New Jersey’s historic farm buildings are the only remaining architectural and cultural representations of our state’s significant agricultural heritage,” said Izzy Kasdin, executive director of the Historical Society of Princeton “It is estimated that fewer than 1,000 barns older than 100 years remain standing in the state. The preservation of the Updike barn was essential, not only to revolutionizing the programming the Historical Society of Princeton could provide to the community, but also to safeguarding these disappearing pieces of the historical record.”

Baxter Construction served as the renovation project general contractor. Ronnie Bregenzer served as the architect for the project and Van Note-Harvey Associates were the civil engineers. Jim Baxter, owner of Baxter Construction, said he was proud to receive the award for restoring such a historically significant gem in the community. “We knew the barn restoration was special from the beginning, but to have industry professionals from around the country feel the same makes me even more proud of the work that Wayne Pietrini and our team did on this important structure,” he said.