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The Rise of Eagle House

The Eagle House 'vision' began years ago.

It started because of our wilderness camp, and our desire to provide our students with better bathhouse facilities.

Real bathrooms, no portable toilets, right near our cabins.

Outdoor showers, where you can see the surrounding hillsides, and be close to nature too!

We also started thinking about having a designated place to store nature program materials, and have staff meetings right up at camp, and then we also knew that we needed a place for the students to gather and learn when the weather turns cold or stormy.

We also realized that our Hawk Circle mission was growing, and that we would need a place to

have more trainings, more community gatherings, more adult retreats and workshops. So, we began the design process, and started raising money, from people who believed in our vision.

We also cleared the brush and trees from the site where Eagle House would rise, to prepare for what was to come.

Once we got some seed money we were able to get an engineer and then get approval from the various state agencies to start the building process. We chose a timber framed style and structure because we liked the sturdiness and longevity, as well as the aestheic beauty and home-like feeling that it would provide to our visitors. We wanted them to feel really safe inside this building, like it was a

'home away from home'.

We ordered the beams for the sill section of the frame, and began cutting that in the winter of 2014. We had several other timber framing projects, as well as our own school groups and camp programs, so it took a while to get those cut. It was frustrating, at times, because we would cut a few beams, then for some reason or another, take weeks to get back to cutting. Sometimes there weren't enough people to move the beams safely (these beams were a little larger than your usual 8x8 beams!) and so we had to wait until there was a crew. Other times, it was the deep freeze cold of winter that delayed our cutting..... But eventually, it was cut, and then we started the posts and the main frame. We also had to

cut the porch frame, and the shower deck frame too, so it was kind of like cutting three different yet integrated projects at once. It's not an incredibly complicated frame, but it is 45 feet long, which means we had to join three different beams together to make the plate, using new scarf joinery, too.

The posts, tie beams and plate beams are all 10x10 inch white pine beams, and they are pretty impressively massive in the main

Eagle House frame. Our shower deck and the porch frames use the standard timber framing 8x8 inch beams, which almost look puny compared to those bigger beams!

We needed hundreds of pegs, and wedges too, for our dovetailed tie beam joinery, and splayed, squinted scarf joints. We made a lot of pegs in our barn, and the apprentices would ask, 'Why are we making ALL of these pegs? Don't we have enough?', while pointing to the

boxes and buckets of hand carved, hardwood pegs.

"No." I'd say. "Keep going!" And on we would split, and carve and make some more.

Anyway, we cut the main frame, except for the rafters, and then started digging the holes for the concrete piers, and got them in the ground right as the snow came last winter. Then, everything got locked up for three or four months, and we had one of the longest, coldest winter here at Hawk Circle that we've ever had.

It felt like spring would never come.

Once the ground around Eagle House was backfilled and graded,

we began setting up the sill beams to where they are going to be for a very, very long time. We also cut the Porch Frame, and raised that in our first raising event in June. That was pretty fun!

Part Two was getting the Post Beams and some of the Tie Beams up. We started to see how the whole frame was going to come together, and how the beams would look once it was completed. It was impressive, and powerful, but luckily, the beams had dried a bit while we waited to raise them, so they were a lot lighter than they would have been if they had been green and full of water.

We got the deck for the shower section installed in September, and with the help of our new crew of Apprentices, we raised

the Shower Deck frame. That was fun! It was great to see the pile of beams slowly get smaller and smaller as they were assembled and then installed.

We raised some plate beams, and one of the remaining tie beams in our next raising in September, and we've also been getting ready to raise the King Posts and the King Purlin Beams too! (All three of them!) Things are starting to wrap up!

We got these beams into place using leverage, many hands that made those beams lift easy, as well as tools like the Beam Mover, the Commander, and our useful friend, the Commercial Tie Down Straps. We had to think out each beam and how it was going to be lifted into place. It

keeps us busy!

Our next raising event is October 31st, 2015, from 9 am to 6 pm. Everyone is welcome to help, in whatever way they can, either lifting, handing out tools, pounding pegs, moving beams or taking pictures or video. It's a great thing to see something go up, and to see how it all fits together. Our teams haven't worked together for years, so

raising takes a little longer as we teach everyone how to make it happen safely and easily, but it's still pretty fun!

Go to our Facebook Event page to find out more and get any updates. We would love to have you. RSVPs is helpful, as we like to provide lunch and the main course for dinner. Bring a dish to pass if you're able! It's going to be awesome!

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