The Berkshire region of western Massachusetts is
characterized by low mountains, picturesque communities such as Norman
Rockwell’s Stockbridge, Williams College, a historic Shaker community
complete with its famous round stone barn, the Tanglewood music festival, stone
walls and Colonial era architecture.
No wonder that photographer and refuge from Wall
Street and Los Angeles Stephen Donaldson decided to “follow his dream” in the
gentle Berkshire Mountains. There he was captivated by the variety of
barns and set about telling their stories through photography.
Admittedly not an authority on rural vernacular
architecture Donaldson grew to appreciate the post and beam construction of
pre-20th century barns and devotes a section to noted timber framer
Jack Sobon’s newly built English barn.
These pages provide the reader a good introduction to this type of construction
using traditional tools and materials—a construction method that is making a
The above-described section of this small (113 p.)
coffee table volume as well as the “Introduction” and “Evolution of Barns in
Berkshire County” are well written, educational and authoritative.
Other photos show a variety of the region’s barns in
all seasons. The more committed barn
aficionado may be disappointed at the number of “of drive by” photos where the
photography begs for more information on the subjects’ age and history. Likewise the text accompanying some of the photo
captions could have been improved. Not
withstanding these points the volume is a worthwhile addition to a library of
barn lore and disappearing Americana.
Barns of the Berkshires is recommended as a book of
photography of these disappearing icons in one of America’s most picturesque
Barns of the Berkshires was released in 2009 by
Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Atglen, PA 19310. Contact 610.593.1777, www.schfferbooks.com, or email@example.com for purchase information.
Review by Charles Leik, June 2009