What's in your barn?: A toy store, a spa and and a woodshop ...
Editor's note: Berkshire County is filled with barns, filled with treasures. In the series "What's in your barn?" we'll be asking county residents that exact question. We hope to find not only interesting items, but stories about our neighbors, their homes and the things they treasure.
In order to tell us what's in his barn, Chris, a resident who lives in Southern Berkshire County, requested his last name and address not be used.
One peek into his "barn," and we obliged.
"Welcome to the toy store," Chris said, as the garage door opened to his carriage house, sitting adjacent to the sprawling house that sits on 60 acres. Inside sat three cars, a boat and an antique tractor. But in case you're saying, "So what?" you'll want to hear the details.
There's the boat — a 1934 Dodge boat restored completely by Chris in his workshop (more about that later) with gleaming mahogany, buttery leather seats, an electric motor and, of course, wooden wine holders that fit a stem perfectly.
"There's probably only 35 of these boats left," he said, adding that the Dodge family — of car acclaim — made about 1,000 of them a year in their heyday.
Parked next to the boat is a 1972 Morris Minor "Estate Wagon," a 4-cylinder British car in a charming pale green that Chris uses to tool around town in.
"It's one of those cars that if you are driving in it, everyone waves at you," he said with a smile.
But be warned: "The brakes are really just a suggestion."
In case you're wondering what he drives when he wants some real speed and comfort, there is a Bentley and Ferrari parked behind the Morris Minor.
"These two are the real toys," he said. The Bentley is about seven years old and the Ferrari FF (which stands for four-wheel drive and four seats) is a couple of years old, a recent gift for Chris and his wife after he sold his tech company.
"I take it out every once in awhile to give it some exercise," he said, referring to it like one of the horses that probably stood in this very carriage barn a century ago. "Short of racing cars, I've never driven a car this fast. It's just incredible."
Chris talks about horse power (again, not the kind of horses that eat hay), engine sizes and pick-up faster than this reporter can write them down. He revved the Ferrari engine so we could get a sense of what the machine could do. Speed is in his blood — the walls are covered with pictures of rare Aston Martins that he owned on race tracks at one time in his car-racing career, a career cut short when a friend and professional driver, who helped maintain Chris' cars, was killed in a crash.
"My wife said, 'That's what happened, and he was good.' [Pause] Understood," he said.
The carriage house tour wasn't complete without a stop at the spa hidden behind an inconspicuous wooden door that could have been a closet or another entrance. Instead, it ushered you into a tranquil area where plush white robes hung, leafy indoor plants decorated the corners and a sauna and hot tub awaited.
The space — which, according to Chris, doesn't get used enough — used to be where the stalls for the horses stood. But when the husband and wife bought the estate in 1996, they began major renovations, the carriage house and its interior being one of them.
"Now, let's go see the car barn," he said, loading us up into his Range Rover to drive to the massive garage on the edge of the property.
Wait, there's more cars and where's the garage?
"Well, it's not really used for cars," he said. And it was easy to miss driving up the driveway because the garage is built into a rolling hill. Other than a stone wall that's about two feet high around the perimeter of the roof, and a chimney sticking out that was built to attract swift nests (the couple not only collect cars, but they also seem to favor animals: two Australian Shepards circled us on the tour, a chicken coop sits next to the carriage house, and there are bird houses dotting the property) the rest of the building is under ground.
There are four garage doors, but the building could have easily fit another four or five on its front stone facade.
But Chris is more than just a car guy — he also knows his way around a saw table.
Inside the expansive garage, which houses the tractors, all-terrain vehicles and mowers needed by the two employees that run the estate and keep it in pristine condition, there's another one of those side doors that leads to another one of Chris' surprises: an impressive woodshop with professional grade saw tables and tools.
There's a pile of old wood — Chris rattles off the names like he was naming the cars' horse power, "oak, walnut, mahogany, maple ..." — in the corner, saved from the restoration projects in the main house. In the corner of the room is his "man cave," a cozy space carved out of the garage with floor to ceiling wooden slats, chairs, a neon sign and a table for his bourbon.
He shows the corners on a large jewelry box he's making for a friend.
"You just have to pay attention to detail," he said of his woodworking hobby, something he picked up as a child from his father.
From the cars to the wood, attention to — and most importantly, appreciation of — detail is what drives Chris' love of these spaces and the things he collects inside them. With so much to choose from, one wonders what is his favorite space or thing he's shown us so far.
He responds quickly.
"The woodshop is my favorite," he said, leaning against a sawdust-covered table. "I can create here. It's just fun. And it keeps me out of mischief."
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