Renowned folk musician and guitarist Happy Traum, along with his wife Jane, and architect son-in-law Barry Price, teamed up with New Energy Works recently to create a Japanese inspired car port for their property near the legendary town of Woodstock in Ulster County New York.
Happy began his music career in the 1950s as part of the emerging acoustic and folk scene in Greenwich Village - New York City alongside contemporaries like Bob Dylan. Having longstanding ties with the local community, Happy and his wife Jane first moved to the Woodstock area in the 1960’s from NYC, riding the success of one of Happy’s early record deals to purchase the property.
“We have lived in the Woodstock area since 1967. We moved up here from New York and bought a piece of property and started to build,” Happy’s wife Jane told us. “Our world is the world of music, and we were drawn to Woodstock because it was an artist colony and a music center, even before the famous music festival, so we put down roots here.”
The Woodstock area has been an established artist community thanks in large part to its association with the famed nearby Byrdcliffe Artist Colony, which was founded in 1902. Upon moving to the area Happy and Jane founded Homespun, a music instruction company out of their home as a business to complement Happy’s recording and touring career.
“I was a working musician for many years and was on the road a lot, traveled a lot, and Jane was here in Woodstock running the business when I was gone. So, we had two things going at once, my preforming career on the road, and our teaching career back home,” Happy explained. “It is a big range of content, from beginner to more on the professional level. Most of it falls somewhere in-between.”
Little by little the couple added on to the property over the years, including a home that was featured in the book Woodstock Handmade Houses as well as extensive gardens. The home is in the distinctive styling of 1970’s era houses in the area, featuring post and beam barn style construction, natural fireplace, and an abundance of large windows to let in natural light.
“Our home feels like it brings the outside in. We have a stone Rumford fireplace that used stone from the old farm walls near the property,” Jane shared. “The whole thing feels like the outdoors are inside. That is what a Woodstock home feels like from that time period, we were trying to incorporate the land around us, and our new carport is just and extension of that idea.”
Recently with the help of their architect son-in-law Barry Price, who is a longtime collaborator with New Energy Works, Happy and Jane decided to add a timber frame car port to the property. Designed in keeping with the natural idyllic setting of the property, Barry intended for the carport to be an open extension of the landscape.
“The carport has a very substantial feeling to it. It fits into the landscape and the environment perfectly and really anchors the property in a great way,” Jane explained. “The car port has benefited us enormously so far in terms of weather. Not in just the winter snow, it is great for the rain or the heat of sun in the summer, it is a very functional and beautiful thing to look at. I enjoy just driving up to it, the way Barry spaced all the railings and beams makes it look so inviting. It is kind of the first thing you see when you drive up our road and it introduces you to the property.”
The carport itself also has a thoughtful addition to the design included by Barry that speaks to the relationship he has with his in-laws. It would be easy to overlook if you did not know the backstory, but near the peak of the car port there are some ironwork details that were lovingly incorporated for the Traum family by their son-in-law.
“Many years ago, maybe twenty or more, at an antique store we bought a set of wrought iron birds. We have had them for years and have never been able to figure out how to use them or where to put them,” Jane told us. “But when Barry was designing the carport he said, “I have found a place for the birds!” and we were so thrilled. They are part of the design now, he placed them perfectly. The fact that he remembered these birds was just so thoughtful. I think that when he designed the carport, he secretly planned to use them all along.”
The Traums are an established family in the Woodstock community, and through times have changed, the spirit and soul of the town has endured. For Happy and his wife Jane, there is nowhere they would rather be spending their golden years.
“We have been totally happy in Woodstock all these years; this is where we are always going to be,” Happy told us. “It is a wonderful community, and we are very lucky to live in a place that is physically beautiful. We have been very happy here with great neighbors who kind of think like we do and love the arts and music. It is the perfect place for us.”
For more about Happy Traum and his work, please visit:
For more from our friend and colleague Barry Price, please visit: