Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

We LOVE Barns!

The PA SHPO’s staff has been thinking a lot about barns.  But then again, who doesn’t?!

Ever since 2015 was designated the Year of the Pennsylvania Barn, we’ve been strategizing ways to help ensure a viable future for more barns across PA as they continue to be pressured by warehouse and residential development, changing agricultural practices, the reduction of working farms, and other challenges.

We want to highlight some positive stories for you today, and hope to be sharing more soon!

Lehigh County

On a cold day in March a small group toured three barns in Allentown’s Little Lehigh Parkway with timber framer Michael Cuba. Michael is working with us to test some new methods for collecting information regarding a barn’s construction and history so that we can evaluate whether it might be eligible for the National Register.

Large stone and wood building.

The Fuller Barn in Lehigh County.

Kudos to Allentown’s Department of Parks and Recreation for their dedicated stewardship of these barns, and thanks so much to Michael for sharing his expertise and teaching skills with us. To enjoy the Parkway on a warmer day—a great place for a walk!—plan your visit using the Parks and Recreation webpage on the City of Allentown’s website.

Adams County

The weather was lovely in May when several of our staff joined the Historic Gettysburg and Adams County’s Barn Preservation Project team to get some training for documenting barns.

People standing in grass in front of large wood building.

The Ditzler Barn at the National Apple Museum in Adams County.

HGAC’s David Maclay is currently training volunteers to go forth and survey 100 additional Adams County barns to add to their existing database of 115+ barns. And we’re working out a new data-sharing method so that their records can be incorporated into our CRGIS database. They are doing good work in Adams County, and we hope we can encourage others to adapt and adopt their programs for other regions.

Stay tuned for a future blog post about HGAC’s barn-related efforts, and learn more about their group on their website.

Centre County

It was a perfect day in early June when Emma Diehl and I joined other barn enthusiasts on the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation’s (HBFF) annual barn tour, this year in Centre County.

Large round wood building.

The Neff Round Barn in Centre County.

Large space of wood framing.

Barn interior.

We thoroughly enjoyed experiencing six very different farms, with six unique barns, as well as a stop at the Centre County Grange Fairgrounds. We hope you’ll consider joining us on next year’s tour in Perry County!

We have been brainstorming with members of the HBFF over the past year to strengthen our collaborations to benefit barns and farms (and their owners) across PA, and hope to continue updating you on that effort in future months. An upcoming post from Emma will feature one of the unexpected finds on this year’s tour.  You can find more information about HBFF and the tour at the HBFF website.

Lancaster County

On a sweltering summer day last year staff members were on site watching the re-raising of the iconic Star Barn, formerly near Harrisburg but now several miles south in Lancaster County.

Truck with building on it.

Moving the Star Barn from its location near Harrisburg to its new home in Lancaster County.

Relocated from its forlorn setting, where it was admired but unused and deteriorating, it’s now the centerpiece of a special-event facility. The barn and its surrounding outbuildings were painstakingly rebuilt by expert timber framers and craftsmen over the past year and will be celebrated with a dedication event on July 3 and 4, 2018.

As you make your plans for the upcoming holiday, consider checking it out in person—it’s an amazing testament to the skills of the past and a commitment to the future. For event details, visit the Star Barn’s website.


And for one more good note, our own David Maher was interviewed for the recent documentary Barns of the Susquehanna Valley.

Barns of the Susquehanna Valley sign.

Barns of the Susquehanna Valley documentary.

Be on the lookout for Dave on a PBS station broadcasting near you! You can learn more about the documentary on the Barn Wanders Facebook page.

Say thank you!

If you love barns—and other farm buildings and landscapes, too—please thank a local property owner who is taking care of an old barn. Many do so without any reward or recognition, and they truly deserve our gratitude for giving us something important to share with future generations.



  1. Sandy Mansmann

    Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation would like to recognize the retirement of county barn historian, Laura Walker, who served our county and others with her incredible knowledge.
    Laura held the position of treasurer for Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania, and often consulted with researchers throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding regions. She served on WCH&LF board of directors over the last two decades.
    She and husband, Wick, who restored and lived in a National Register farm, including a log barn, are relocating with two horses to Lexington, Virginia, a great loss to PA,

  2. April Frantz

    Thanks so much for sharing this news, Sandy, although we were sad to hear it. Laura’s expertise will definitely be missed–I just suggested her as a possible resource for a property owner in a nearby county!

    Thank you, Laura, for promoting PA’s farms and for helping so many others appreciate their historic resources. Wishing you all the best in Virginia!

  3. Cara Eyer

    I would like to know who to consult about a barn in Lehigh County. I am interested in finding out who designed and built it. Thank you.

    Cara L Eyer

  4. Connie Thomas

    Do you do restorations in McKean County?

  5. Jodi Calloway

    My brother has a farm in Honesdale, Pa with a magnificent barn in need of serious repair. The farm was known as Bunnels Pond and was built in 1855 at 588 Cliff St. Honesdale, Pa.

    • April Frantz

      Thanks for reaching out, and sorry that we missed this message earlier. You may be interested in checking out the new grant program offered through the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania. The grant amounts aren’t large, but through participating you might also gain useful advice to help prioritize repairs and understand options for the barn’s future needs. Visit their website for more info: .

      We don’t appear to have any records for this property, but would love to learn more about it. Feel free to email me directly if you’d like to share more information about the farm, and thanks again for reaching out. (

  6. Sal Modesto

    We have a bank barn @ 183 Davis Bridge Rd. Bernville Pa. and are seeking
    assistance discovering history and evaluating condition

  7. April Frantz

    Thanks so much for your stewardship of your barn, Sal! Berks County does indeed have some good ones. I checked our records, and unfortunately we don’t have any information about your property. A great way to learn about barns is through the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania ( Their annual tour is an opportunity to visit barns with experts and see how others have addressed their barn repairs and alterations. (This year’s tour is June 9-10 featuring Cumberland County barns.) For local research about your property’s history we recommend the Historical Society of Berks County’s library (, and the Pennsylvania German Cultural Center at Kutztown University. I’ll follow up with you directly with some additional info related to barn survey and local resources. Thanks again for your interest and commitment to this piece of Pennsylvania’s heritage.

  8. J. Kimble

    I’m interested in assistance concerning a timber framed Barn located in Bedford Co. Centerville. This structure is partially bridging a unnamed stream, located in a flood hazard area. It resembles a New England Barn, a house and barn combined, with house over waterway. It doesn’t look like any agriculture use that I could see. The structure is solid except for foundation erosion in stream, but unfortunately it is threatened for demolition by local authorities. I’ll be greatful for assistance with discovering the past uses or any contacts for restoration.

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