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For the past 40 years, Robert and Barbara have shared a love affair restoring this wonderful barn. To prepare it for solar, they pooled their resources together with the talents of their son, Eben, who grew up heavily influenced by working alongside his parents during their restoration efforts. Now a highly skilled craftsman and professional restorer himself, specializing in antique barns, he’s able to add his own preservation expertise. “He was very helpful in analyzing the structural condition of our barn and preparing it for the photovoltaic panel installation. By using vintage timbers, repairs were made to the frame without them being noticeable,” says Barbara, reflecting on the project, “It has been wonderful for us to work with Eben on this project, which has been a goal for many years, and we couldn’t have done it without him!”

Many old barns were built to take advantage of passive solar opportunities, since many might otherwise lack an alternative source of heat and light. A large roof expanse and south facing orientation are common ideals for a solar system. The Mathews barn in particular, is oriented opposing the quaint little road it lives on, so one might have to look closely to see the solar array as they pass by.

Their collective efforts entailed re-roofing nearly 2,000 square feet with metal before a 7.8 kilowatt solar electric array was mounted at the south facing center. This system is designed to offset their entire electric load for both the house and business, producing over 9,500 kilowatt hours annually, thus removing almost 7,000 pounds of CO2 emissions every year.

Their passion for sustainability began during Jimmy Carter’s Energy Program in the 80’s, where they installed a solar hot water system. They continue to garden organically and heat primarily with wood cut from their land. “We have three grandchildren, with a fourth due at Thanksgiving, so we are thinking about the world we will be passing on to them. With all the concern about the environment and climate change it’s hard not to want to help in some way,” says Barbara.

A little about your hosts, Robert and Barbara Mathews:
Robert began his career at an early age, deeply influenced by the traditions of his shoemaking family. Today he works closely with his wife Barbara, who contributes her talents for color and design. Together they have created a unique business, all while raising a family and restoring this antique farmstead.

“Custom Shoemaking is all about our clients”, says Barbara, whose process includes a deep understanding of the needs of people and their feet, since many clients are looking for shoes to accommodate a wide range of foot issues. “We work with each individual client to fulfill their personal fitting requirements and design ideas and find it especially gratifying to help people with foot problems be comfortable and happy in their shoes, often for the first time in their lives.” Other clients simply seek a high quality, handmade shoe with special leathers or colors. And then there are those who have all of these goals for their shoes. ”Being able to create something with our hands that contributes to the well-being and satisfaction of others is the inspiration for our business.”

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ReVision Energy is honored to collaborate with The NH Preservation Alliance*  for an open house scheduled for Thursday, September 18th from 5-7pm. Light food and drink will be served, followed by a session on solar energy and tour of the barn.

Please RSVP for address to Kimry at 603 679 1777 or [email protected].

*The Preservation Alliance is New Hampshire’s non-profit, membership-based organization committed to the preservation of historic landmarks, communities and landscapes through leadership, education and advocacy.