The 42-by-26-foot storage barn was framed with eastern hemlock and white-pine timbers from a local sawmill.

Earlier this year, timber-framer Paul Freeman, owner of Brooks Post & Beam in Lyndeborough, N.H., realized he had a problem. The dismal economy had slowed the flow of incoming projects to a trickle, leaving his tight-knit four-person crew facing the possibility of going to a short work week if things didn't turn around. But then he learned that the local historical society in the nearby town of Greenfield had a problem, too: It desperately needed a barn to store some of the larger artifacts in its collection but could just barely afford to pay for the materials.Putting one and one...