Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

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.


Author: April Frantz

April Frantz is the National Register reviewer for the PA SHPO's Eastern Region.


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