Moving an ancient barn to downtown Tulsa and turning it into the new home of the DoubleShot made perfect sense to Joel Collins as soon as the idea popped into his head.
Wooden beams, hewn by hand before lumber mills existed, would suit a coffee shop that roasted beans with similar care and craftsmanship, the building designer realized. The patina of old timber spoke to hard work and endurance. And plopping a charming old barn into the middle of a concrete landscape at 1633 S. Boulder? That was more than interesting. It was the kind of subversion a coffee shop known for standing up to Starbucks could take pride in.
Collins and DoubleShot owner Brian Franklin had already invested a year working on a completely different look for the shop’s new home. But with the barn idea, all their plans seemed to fall into place.
“There are so many right things about it for Brian and me. We both kind of do our own thing. You like us or you don’t,” said Collins, owner of J. Collins & Associates. “I kept thinking about the whole irony of an 1860s barn being built right in the middle of downtown. That’s both of us.”
The DoubleShot plans to break ground on the new building this fall, with an expected grand opening next spring.
The old barn Collins envisioned months ago already sits in his warehouse in organized pieces – enough to fill two 53-foot semi trailers. “It’s going to be a nice little puzzle to put together,” he said.
He found the barn some 750 miles away in a Berne, Indiana, cornfield with the help of two Amish brothers. They have run a barn hunting business, Timeless Barn Company/Swiss Building Systems, for decades, long before barn hunters started turning up on reality TV shows. Collins has worked with them on several other projects.
The Civil War era barn was built by an Amish farming family named Hite sometime between 1860 and 1870, he said. It contained iron stalls for milking cows, a long feeding trough, plenty of room for keeping animals protected and a hay loft.
Barns like the one in Indiana were typically built with wood from nearby forests and constructed with an awe-inspiring attention to quality, he said.
“They knew that if they built it like this it was going to be there for a hundred years and would take care of their family. They wouldn’t have to rebuild it,” Collins said.
The Berne barn was constructed largely with pegs, rather than nails or screws, and its beams had been hewn by hand with an ax.
“This is a pre-lumber mill era,” Collins explained. “They drug a tree, probably with horses, from a forest close by. They brought it to the site and then used a broad ax. They stand on top of the log and just walk down it until it’s square on both sides, then they flip it 90 degrees and they hew it the other way.
“If you run a tape measure from one end to the other, half of these timbers are within a quarter of an inch of one another. It’s ridiculous how straight they are.”
Because Collins plans to rebuild the barn rather than just reuse the wood, it had to be dismantled piece by piece. Each piece was labeled with metal tags that are color-coded and numbered so work crews in Tulsa will know how to reassemble the structure.
The barn will form the heart of the new DoubleShot. A roastery will be added to the rear of the barn using bricks reclaimed from an old Coca-Cola plant in Muskogee. A windowed atrium on the front end will expand the space to about 6,000 square feet.
Collins said some members of the Hite family are already asking when the project will be completed so they can come visit it.
The new DoubleShot building, which will be called The Rookery, is more than just another contract project to Collins.
He walked into the DoubleShot not long after it opened nearly 14 years ago and has been back most days ever since.
“I wasn’t much of a coffee connoisseur,” he said, “but I’m a big fan of anything real. When I see anybody doing something real, where they really care about something, I am always drawn to that.”
And the barn is real. The old look of the wood is genuine beauty, he said. And unlike man-made construction materials that fade and warp, the wood will get more beautiful with age.
“I feel like the place should be as real as Brian, as real as me and as real as what he’s producing,” Collins said. “From the look of the wood to the smell of the wood to the character it’s going to give off once it’s done, I don’t think anybody is going to ever question, ‘Why did you do this?’ I think it’s just going to be, `Wow! I’m glad we have this place in Tulsa.’”