We are excited to share about past and future barn tours and barn grant opportunities!

2023 HBFF Barn Tour

PA SHPO staff had the pleasure of participating in the 2023 barn tour sponsored by the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation (HBFF). The barns featured on the 2023 tour reflected the tour’s theme, The Agriculture Reform Movement and Barn Building in Cumberland County.  This theme was also highlighted by tour leader Jerry Clouse in his power-point presentation Friday evening and documented as well in the 75-page, copiously illustrated guidebook released for the tour.  

The guidebook provides context of the 19th century ag reform movement in Cumberland County and its influence in the building and re-building of barns and farmsteads in various locations across the county.  The tour featured both Schweitzer and Standard Pennsylvania type barns, ranging in construction dates from 1839 to 1935.  Examples of log, stone, brick and timber-frame barns were shown, each illustrating a different aspect of agricultural reform.

Group of people standing in large open barn.

HBFF board members Patrick Donmoyer, Jeff Marshall, Michael Cuba, and Tyra Guyton examine the interior of the Garver-Miller Barn, a notable frame barn with horizontal log infill. Photo by Barbara Frederick, PA SHPO.

County native, Frederick Watts was the leading force in the reform movement not only within the county but also statewide.  Furthermore, Watts’ tri-gable barn design, published in 1864, was emulated by other progressive farmers of the county.  The goal of his design was to enable the ease of work by the farmer.

One nearly pristine example on the tour was the c. 1868 McKeehan-Baish timber-frame Standard Pennsylvania barn located within the fertile limestone land of central Cumberland Valley.  The upper floor plan closely follows Watts’ design with its wagon shed/corn crib centered over the rear ramp, and this is incorporated into the two threshing floors with their adjoining mows and granaries.

Groups of people standing on grass around large barn.

The notable McKeehan-Baish Barn. Note drive thru corn crib/wagon shed integrated into rear earthen bank with space for storage and air flow beneath. Photo by April Frantz.

Another tour barn but on the other end of the spectrum, was the 1839 Hensel-Winslow stone and timber-frame Schweitzer barn which was constructed on the poorer shale lands of the northwestern part of the county.  Here, the farmer needed to nurture the land more carefully to have high crop yields.

This barn was constructed by brothers Philip and David Haun who were carpenter-farmers in partnership with William C. McElwaine.  They transformed the landscape of their neighborhood by not only rebuilding their own log houses and barns with substantial brick houses and timber-frame barns but also those of their neighbors.

A reform-minded feature of the Hensel-Winslow barn is the outshed granaries to the rear which enabled more storage space for the farm’s grains but also provided additional space in the mows for hay and straw.

Small group of people standing in large barn door opening.

Barn tour leader Jerry Clouse, right, discusses the Hensel-Winslow barn with a tour participant and barn owner, Caroline Winslow, center. Photo by Barbara Frederick, PA SHPO.

The above two examples as well as the other 2023 tour barns exemplify the master framing skills of the county’s barn builders as they strove to better meet the changing needs of 19th and early 20th century farmers.  And while some of the county’s great barns and their associated outbuildings have been lost to development, neglect and changing agricultural needs and methods, the tour showed that some splendid examples have survived and are much cherished by their owners.

While each barn displays specific features that help define their character, they are all indeed lasting testaments to their versatility and durability.

Interior wood structure of barn.

Hayracks in the barn on the Brandt-Cohick Farm. Photo by Tyra Guyton, PA SHPO.

HBFF Barn Grant Program

The Historic Barn and Farm Foundation (HBFF) also sponsors the Barn Grant Program of matching grants to provide for barn preservation projects throughout the Commonwealth. We first introduce you to this new program in this post.

Last year, the first year of awards, grants were awarded to barns in Centre, Cumberland, Northumberland, Berks, Lancaster, and Allegheny counties. Three of the projects are roof replacements, another includes new gutters. While preventing water infiltration is key to maintaining barns, the HBFF was also able to help with funding a repointing project and the restoration of cupolas on one other barn.

Two of the projects have been completed and the owners reimbursed, while the other four are presumed to be well under way.

The application round for the 2024 barn grants is now open: http://pahistoricbarns.org/barn-grant-program/“. The deadline for 2024 applications is November 1, 2023. The awards will be announced in March of 2024. Application is free to HBFF members and membership is open to all.

2023 Gettysburg Adams County Barn Tour

The Historic Gettysburg Adams County Preservation Society (HGAC) will host a historic barn tour of Gettysburg and the Adams County area on September 16, 2023. You can register for the barn tour online at: https://www.hgaconline.org/hgac-barn-tour-2023.

Two story round barn

Round barn in Adams County fruit belt, 2012.

2024 HGAC Barn Grant Preservation Program

The barn preservation grant program of the HGAC will be available to barns located in Adams County early next year. Please check back on their website at https://www.hgaconline.org/barn-preservation-project-grant-program for more information.

Today’s post was written with members of the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation (HBFF). HBFF  is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational resources for the long-term preservation, protection, and documentation of historic barns in Pennsylvania, and the agricultural heritage of the Commonwealth.