Fox Maple School of Traditional Building
P.O Box 249, Corn Hill Road
Brownfield, Maine 04010

Teaching Natural Patterns of Building

The Corn Hill School Site
The Fox Maple School campus is located on Corn Hill Road in West Brownfield, Maine. The 40 acre site is situated on a southeasterly sloping wooded land in the rural foothills of western Maine. Drive time from Portland, Maine is about an hour and 2-1/2 hours from Boston. To date, four structures that make up the core campus complex are operational. The core campus structures have all been built primarily by students and apprentices in structured workshops and incorporate a variety of traditional and indigenous building systems and approaches. Natural, locally obtained materials were used as much as possible.
Each building is intended to be a model for responsible, practical and cost effective approaches to building in northern New England, and are to some extent, experimental in nature. Craftsmanship and quality is of primary importance in our building philosophy. The workshops and courses we offer are conducted by experienced professional builders, drawing from the best American and European talent.

Fox Maple Library
The Library
The library incorporates a number of traditional and alternative building systems. The frame, cut and raised in the June 1996 workshop, was designed to provide both introductory and advanced framing details for course instruction, and is modeled after the Japanese Minka. This was followed up with a straw bale workshop instructed by Athena and Bill Steen.
The foundation is a rubble trench, the walls are straw bales. For lateral reinforcing, maple saplings, harvested from the site, were lashed together with hemp twine, inside and out. The roof is thatch. Clay plaster is used on both the interior and exterior walls.

Fox Maple Office

The Office

Our goal in the design and construction of the office was to provide an economic and efficient model for a modest dwelling, based on a traditional New England design, which utilized a natural enclosure system. The 1,600 square foot building combines two workshop frames - a two bent saltbox, and a three bent high posted cape. The frames were cut in workshops by students in the Fall 1994 & Spring1996 workshops. They were raised as two freestanding frames, butted together with a straw panel sandwiched in between, and enclosed with compressed wheat straw panels. This system is representative of how one could build one section to accommodate a later addition. Natural materials were used for the most part. Wheat straw panels on roof and walls, clay plaster covers a portion of the interior walls, pine boards provide the balance of the construction material, aside from the steel roofing and concrete frost wall foundation.

Fox Maple Workshop
The Workshop
The Workshop's timber frame was designed to provide the greatest amount of open space, with the least amount of timber and labor. To achieve this, king-post trusses, spanning 32 feet, were used. The rafters are 20 feet, but all of the remaining timbers are 16 feet and under. The frame was cut in the June 1995 workshop. The roof and walls are covered with compressed wheat straw panels with local pine covering the walls and steel roofing.

Fox Maple Dining HallThe Dining Hall

The dining hall is designed in the style of a medieval English cottage, and is intended to be the building that experiments with a variety of clay/fiber enclosure systems. Wattle & daub, woodchip-light clay, straw-light clay and straw clay blocks make up the wall enclosure. We have used a variety of different clay/fiber systems to show examples of all the possibilities available. Thatch and slate make up the roof. Our Goal with this building is to experiment and monitor the performance of both the traditional methods and some of the more recent innovations in natural clay-based infill systems. The frame was cut and erected by students in the June 1997 workshop class, and combined both introductory and advanced joinery systems.  

Our Mission
The primary goal of FMSTB is to provide individuals seeking knowledge and experience in traditional, natural and sustainable building systems the opportunity to learn, firsthand, by working on real-world projects that exemplify the qualities, characteristics and practicality we believe to be appropriate and representative of the way of our building future. The art and craft of Timber Framing provides the core curriculum, around which, a host of traditional and progressive enclosure systems may be applied.

While there are many new building concepts that seem to offer wonderful possibilities in solving some of the building issues we will be facing in the new millennium, we believe that for any real strides to be made, these unique and novel systems must first be designed, built and tested in a variety of building environments if they are to prove to be practical and efficient alternatives. Secondly, for a system or technique to be integrated into the broader stream, there needs to be a body of trained individuals capable of designing and directing the construction process in a professional manner. To provide this comprehensive training, we are in the process developing longer-term sessions geared for architectural and engineering students, professional trades people and trade apprentices, that will offer both classroom and hands-on experience in all phases of the construction process. It is our intent to develop working relationships with universities, colleges and trade schools in which we can provide valuable hands-on experience, from which, students will receive course credits.
Those with insight, vision and enthusiasm are invited to take part.

Fox Maple Campus site plan
Campus Site
Our campus is situated on 40 acres on the Corn Hill Road, in West Brownfield, Maine. Five acres have been designated for the campus dwellings and structures. The remaining 35 acres will remain in tree growth, managed to create a sustainable, long-term supply of timber for future workshop projects. In addition to timber management, we have plans to cultivate a 6 acre meadow for farming, gardening and agricultural crops that can be used for both food, and construction materials.
The work that has taken place since the ground breaking in April of 1996 has been exciting, if not miraculous, in its unfolding. There is still much to do before the long-term goals are fully realized and the work complete, but the process is our real goal. Through it, we will have the opportunity to develop and experiment with new ideas, and give people an opportunity work and learn in a setting which is comfortable and inspirational.

To download the FMSTB School Booklet in Acrobat Reader PDF format, click here or on the icon to the left. The 40 page booklet describes course descriptions in detail, tools and supplies to bring, the school campus' building construction details including timber frame plans of all the structures, clay and thatch systems, directions to our site and lodging info in the Brownfield area. This is the essential info we send to those who have registered for workshops. Available now on line directly. Download time is approximately 5 minutes.

Archive Newsletter

Home Page /  Workshops / webstore /  A Timber Framers Workshop (book)