There are a number of interesting parts to this building that give us some clues to its past and raise more questions and some debate.
1. The stone. The building is built of local limestone, most likely from an outcrop that was found just one street to the west. Brickyards were established very early in Cobourg (an actual date has not been found yet - but very likely pre-1830). Brick is cheaper and easier to build with than limestone (the stone may be free but making the lime mortar is extremely time consuming _ the stone building would take a great deal more mortar than a similar brick building). The stone weathers quickly (hence the great need to get a roof on the building soon) and will crumble quickly if exposed. It does sometimes contain amazing fossils.
2. Owl windows. The round brick windows on each end of the building. These openings can be seen on older stone barns. They were designed to encourage owls to live in the building. The owls would not only hunt the local rodents, but there presence (and the resulting bones) would discourage rodents seeking grain in the building. These brick openings were probably added in the 1830's as part of Calcutt’s brewery business. The bricks were from the local brickyards that operated in Cobourg and produced many of the bricks for local houses.
3. The chimneys. The west chimney was added later in the building’s history. It has been constructed through the owl window (making it useless) which suggests it was added during a time that either the area had become too built up for owls to be willing to use the entrance or the building was no longer being used for grain storage but for an use that required heat. The east chimney is open to debate. Some believe it was built with the building. Brick was used as the limestone was not able to handle the heat unless it was carefully covered with mortar. Others, myself included, believe the chimney was added in afterwards. The chimney winds its way up through the wall which suggests that stones were removed to make way for it but, due to the irregular shape and size of the stones, a crooked path needed to be taken. It winds itself around the owl window which suggests it was added afterwards. The bricks show clear signs of being handmade and are probably local as is the burnt lime mortar.
4. Doors. The building had one more door than it has now (a careful look at one of the middle windows will reveal it was originally a door with the lower half blocked up.)
5. The holes in the north, inside wall. Local legend says these are holes from American cannonballs. Either the militia men held the doors and windows open for these shots or did an impeccable job fixing the south wall and then neglected the north wall. An explosion of gunpowder? Possibly. More likely, the damage is due to rough wear and tear.
6. The floor. The original floor was 1 1/2 feet below the surface of the modern floor. Everything you can imagine was in that 1 1/2 feet. A tour of the Barracks will reveal some of these very interesting artifacts that have been found to date. The original floor was pine plank and beam (which rules out a blacksmith shop and stable as original uses for the building).
7. The roof. We believe we have some original rafters _ but, to be honest _ we are not sure. They are wedge_shaped, as were rafters in other, confirmed, military buildings from this time. As mentioned elsewhere, the roof showed fire damage on its south side from the 1890's fire that destroyed the distillery buildings to the south.
8. The tunnels. We have not found any in the building yet despite rumours. The militia men would not have wasted their time with tunnels. Only James Calcutt, who bought the property in the 1830's, would have had the money, opportunity, and motivation to build tunnels (one man attempted to assassinate him, he could have feared other attempts). This aspect remains to be seen.
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