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Ogdensburg family refurbishes horse barn into high-end living space

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OGDENSBURG — Danny M. St. Pierre and his wife, Kathryn S., are hoping to inspire others to join a trend of creating high-end housing in Ogdensburg.

The couple hopes they have started that trend by converting a 22-stall horse barn into three luxury townhouses. They call the development The Barn.

Just two miles outside of Ogdensburg at 6295 Route 812, the barn was built in 1961.

It passed through two sets of hands before reaching the Erdman family.

Mr. St. Pierre said he never imagined he would become a landlord, but when an opportunity came along to purchase the old horse barn he used to play in as a little boy, he was inspired by the space.

“It was the building that drove me,” he said. “Renting was really a byproduct of wanting to restore the barn.”

Mr. St. Pierre said he fondly remembers his neighbors, the Erdmans. The barn was previously owned by Roberta M. “Bobbe” Huntress Erdman, a horsewoman, musician, entrepreneur and teacher. Driving her horse, Seymour J., she set the women’s world record time for a trotter. She was featured on the “Pat on the Back” page of Sports Illustrated and appeared on the TV program, “To Tell the Truth.”

Mr. St. Pierre remembers playing in the hay loft above the barn and watching the horses.

“I used to look out a big window in the barn and see my house,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to see it now fully restored.”

Saving the 22-stall horse barn and converting it into three townhouses was not without its challenges. The couple has been working on refurbishing the 120-foot-long and 30-foot-wide barn since May. The structure was rotting, and a family of raccoons had taken up residence in the hay loft.

“They started pulling back boards and saw that it was worse than they thought,” Mr. St. Pierre said. “Many people thought I was crazy to restore it.”

But much of the barn’s basic structure and its ceiling was spared.

“We kept the original ceiling and added micro-laminate beams,” Mr. St. Pierre said. “We tried to keep very close to the barn theme, with lots of exposed wood, but there are some modern elements, too. We went ridiculous with the modern stuff — the sinks, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and flooring — to make it very efficient.”

Each townhouse has its own stainless steel cable staircase to add to the open, airy and well-lit space, Mr. St. Pierre said.

“The staircase had to be there, so we wanted to make it so that the light could not be blocked by it,” Mr. St. Pierre said. “It makes the room larger. We kept most of the original window dimensions to create a lofty feel.”

Mr. St. Pierre even combined some old and new elements, such as refurbishing the barn’s old doors into sliding doors for the bathrooms and closets.

A financial planner for Ameriprise, but a farmer at heart, Mr. St. Pierre said he and his family rebuilt most of the barn themselves. For the more difficult work, such as the staircase, he hired local contractors.

“It was a family effort,” Mr. St. Pierre said. “My wife is good with the design, painting and the color scheme elements. I like to tear things down and put them up again. My kids helped while they were off from school.”

Mr. and Mrs. St. Pierre said they were largely inspired by the trend of converting barns into housing, and gathered ideas for materials, such as the Napa Valley wine barrel kitchen island, from eBay.

“We also watch a lot of HGTV,” he said with a laugh. “We had a lot of building materials for years and the demand. We didn’t even have that place done before we had people ask to rent it.”

Mr. St. Pierre said he hopes the project will spur the birth of a new housing market.

“It takes quite a bit of work, effort and time, but I am a farmer and I like to keep busy,” Mr. St. Pierre said. “You’re either born with it or you’re not.”



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