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Former Filson employee Ben Fife returned to the plains of Spokane this March to finish a project he started with his Father: a 48' by 40' classic burnt-red barn -- and more importantly -- the foundation of their family dream to have a home in the country. Late in to the Summer's light, we had a chance to reconnect with Ben, and take a tour of this long-sought shelter.
All photos by Eleanor Lonardo.
Where did the idea for the barn come from?
The barn was designed by my father, who has been working with his hands building and remodeling his whole life. The project was the first stage of a dream my parents have had for years: to have a home in the country on a small piece of property. My dad made the barn in the classic style, which aesthetically is beautiful, but also has incredible functionality and strength of structure. The barn, I'm happy to say, will become a bad ass man cave when the house is finished. The bottom half was built into specific rooms that will separately house tools, lumber, a metal shop, food storage, office space, and a large wood shop down the middle. The upstairs will be an art studio living space, complete with a wood stove right in the middle. I can't wait to see it fully complete down the road.How long have you been working on the barn?
We started the barn last October, when I was back from Alaska for a little over a month. The goal was to get from foundation to having a roof on before I left in November. We got close to that, stacking up the trusses. It's 48' by 40' with 11 foot high ceilings in the middle on the first floor.
I came back in March this year to help get the thing wrapped up after Winter, and we picked up not too far from where we left off. Since then, we've worked almost every day -- my Father and I -- to get us to a good place before I'm off again.
What was the best aspect of building the barn?
Without a doubt, the time I've gotten to spend working alongside my father. I feel like at this point in my life I was able to offer a hand with a trade I had done a fair amount of since I left home, but I had learned the foundations from my father. So to come back and go swing for swing -- with the hammer that is, has been a great feeling -- and a great time. We joke a lot, laugh a lot, and hit our heads and swear like mad men for a second. I'll never forget the times, that's for sure.The worst?
The worst part, I missed! I was working in Hawaii with my wife. I heard that putting the metal roof on, in single digit temps, in howling wind was the worst. Some real tough nuts my dad contracted to finish that part back in December. They did good work.
My wife and I did four months in Hawaii before it finally soaked into my head that I had to come back home to help with the barn. I wanted to and needed to. Then things felt clear for us, and we set the flights back to the mainland. When we arrived back home, we were a long ways from done, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. Sometimes no other doors open when there is a room you haven't spent enough time in yet. And now my wife, Lily, and I will be off for our next adventure this September. Life is good.
Thanks to Filson for the support. Hello to all the good people and friends back in Seattle and beyond right now. All the best. Might as well, right?