Andrea Haulenbeek: Rebuilding a barn and rekindling a family legacy

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Andrea Haulenbeek didn’t realize it at the time, but she presided over a family rebirth. In 2012, she helped take apart, move and restore an old Johnson barn only to discover that the structure had once been owned by a member of her own family.

This year, the rebuilt Prindle Barn will open as an event space on the Prindle Farm in Hinesburg. Haulenbeek has deep roots in town. Her grandparents, both descendants of settlers who came to Vermont in the late 1700s, grew up on farms in Charlotte and Monkton but purchased the Prindle Farm in the early 1900s. Haulenbeek’s grandchildren are the fifth generation to live on the land.

Prior to setting up her events barn, Haulenbeek had a lengthy and varied career in music. Haulenbeek’s professional travels included concerts in Europe with her late husband, a Nigerian musician. Upon returning to Vermont, she began a teaching career which included a Teacher of the Year award at Mount Mansfield Union High School. She also co-founded a program for children called Mountain Strings in 1999. Although she has retired from teaching after stints at several area schools, Haulenbeek continues to run her own piano studio and five years ago started a children’s choir for second, third and fourth graders in Hinesburg. Last spring, her charges performed at the Hinesburg Music Series.

Haulenbeek’s youngest daughter Grace Ciffo was the first to notice the free barn in Johnson on Craigslist. A successful events coordinator, she was hoping to hold some celebrations on the Prindle Farm. Haulenbeek thought the former site of the big dairy barn, which had burned over three decades ago, would be a good location, so they hired Charlotte barn wright Peter Demick and began to strip the frame of the 200-year-old structure.

Haulenbeek spent the fall and winter methodically driving stacks of boards home to Hinesburg while Demick tagged every timber and peg for reconstruction. In late March 2015, on Maundy Thursday, Haulenbeek received a call from Demick that the frame was up. “The timing couldn’t have been more prophetic,” said Haulenbeek.

Over the course of the summer, with help from others, Haulenbeek sheathed the front and sides of the building, with the window frames and other finishing touches taking place in the fall. After permits have been obtained, she plans to open the doors to Prindle Barn in late May with a focus on family reunions, community events, birthday parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and corporate events.

Prindle Farm is 370 acres abutting land owned by Haulenbeek’s brother and another conserved farm. In addition to the barn, the farm has a guesthouse with four bedrooms. It’s been a long process but Haulenbeek is pleased with the results and hopes her lovingly reconstructed barn will become a site for music, smiles and good times for extended families like her own.