Save the dates: June 13, 14 and 15 2014.
The HBFF will hold its annual meeting and barn tour in Washington County in southwest Pennsylvania this year. On Friday June 13, we will visit the Manchester Farm “Plantation Plenty”, followed by dinner at Meadowcroft Museum. On Saturday June 14 we will tour six barns by bus, some with features distinctive to SW PA, and some that are not Pennsylvania Barns at all. On Sunday June 15 Fred Will has arranged a three barn self driving tour in Somerset County. Laura Walker is also compiling a list of suggested additional stops and routes for while you’re on your way, so those who have a long distance to travel may want to plan an extra day.
Vintage Forebay Barns
Come hear HBFF Board Member Ken Sandri discuss Pennsylvania Forebay Barns On October 23, 2013 at 7 p.m. Schuylkill County Historical Society, North Centre Street, Pottsville.
After the 2013 Annual Meeting
Thanks to all the volunteers and participants of the 2013 Annual meeting and barn tour who made the event a enjoyable success. Check back soon to see the changes to the Board of Directors.
The 2013 Annual Meeting
Mark your calendars now for the 2013 HBFF of PA Annual Meeting and Barn Tour – Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15. HBFF will be touring historic barns of the Saucon Valley, Northampton County. HBFF members are given first consideration for the barn tour. We have just 3 seats left!
2013 National Barn Alliance
June 7-8 2013 – The National Barn Alliance Annual Meeting at Bushnell Farm, Old Saybrook, CT. More information at http://www.connecticutbarns.org/
After the 2012 Annual Meeting
A bus load of barn enthusiasts came to “Dutch Country” for this year’s Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania annual meeting and historic barn tour on June 15th and 16th. This year’s event showcased seven historic barns in Lebanon and Berks counties.
Friday evening’s dinner in the barn loft of the Lantern Lodge in Myerstown featured keynote speaker Chris Witmer who provided a fascinating discussion on barn documentation.
Saturday’s bus tour featured a homestyle lunch at Light’s Victorian Farmhouse. The group posed for a post-lunch photo next to the Light’s brick-end barn which was part of the tour on Saturday.
As part of the annual meeting, the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of PA held its fourth election of five members to the Board of Directors. Newly elected were Judy Lengle, Joe Glass, and Michael Irvin. They will serve three-year terms along with re-elected directors Bob Ensminger and Greg Huber. Retiring from the fifteen member Board of Directors were John Hackman, Melissa Evans, and Jim Hoy.
For more information about our 2012 annual meeting and barn tour, order a copy of the Fall 2012 Forebay Post for $5 or join the HBFF of PA and receive a free copy. Click on the membership link for a brochure.
2012 Annual Meeting
MYERSTOWN — Lebanon Valley historic barns will be the highlight of this year’s
Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania annual meeting and barn tour next
month. In its fifth year, the statewide non-profit organization is featuring eight historic
barns in eastern Lebanon County and western Berks County during the two-day event
on June 15th and 16th.
Former Berks County resident and professor emeritus at Kutztown University, Robert
Ensminger assisted in organizing this year’s barn tour and is excited about the size and
condition of the eight barns that will be visited. Ensminger is co-founder of the HBFF of
PA, along with Berks County’s agricultural coordinator, Sheila Miller. Formed in March
2007, the HBFF of PA has grown in numbers of members and geographical regions
since its beginnings. Its members, which exceeds several hundred in number, live
across Pennsylvania and in many neighboring states.
“Our annual meeting is an opportunity to network with some of the world’s foremost
authorities on historic barns and people who just simply love to see them on the
landscape,” said Miller. “We start at four o’clock on Friday, June 15th, at a barn I have
grown up admiring. It is located just west of Fredericksburg, along Route 22, and is one
of the largest barns in the area. It is picturesque with lots of decorative wooden trim
and is still being used as an integral part of the grain and beef operation.” Miller said
the Friday afternoon barn visit will be followed by the organization’s annual meeting,
fundraiser, and dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Lantern Lodge in Myerstown.
“We will have a delicious buffet dinner in the loft of an historic, limestone barn that was
converted many years ago into one of the area’s finest restaurants. Dinner will be
followed by a brief business meeting and then our evening’s speaker, Chris Witmer who
will be sharing his many years of experience in documenting barns. He has published
articles on vernacular architecture in the Proceedings of the Vernacular Architecture
Forum and Pennsylvania Folklife,” said Miller.
2011 Annual Meeting
See flyer for more information.
2010 Annual Meeting
Come to Chester County for this year’s Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of PA’s annual meeting and historic barn tour. This is a two-day event scheduled for June 18th and 19th, beginning with a special evening touring an historic barn, the Abiah Taylor barn, owned by HBFF of PA member John Milner, AIA, a renowned historic preservation architect. This tour, which will begin at 5:30 p.m., will be followed by a delicious barbeque dinner in a scrumptious location, the historic Georgia Farm (listed on the national register as the Carter Worth house and farm) located on the Stroud Preserve of the Natural Lands Trust, near West Chester As we enjoy dessert, we will be treated to a program by HBFF of PA director Robert Ensminger who will share his findings on the migration of the Pennsylvania barn and reflect on his research that has taken him across the Atlantic Ocean on the historic trail of these wonderful barns’ origins. HBFF will hold its annual business meeting and election of directors, and close out the evening discussing the history of the Georgia Farm which is on the National Register.
Saturday will be devoted to touring five historic barns in southern Chester County, along with lunch at the London Grove Friends Meeting House and visiting the Penn oak tree. Saturday’s schedule begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at approximately 3 p.m.
Reservations are required to participate in either or in both days’ events. Saturday’s tour will be limited based on available seating so register early to save a place on the bus. Please mail registration form and payment to HBFF of PA, c/o Sheila Miller, President, 80 Witman Road, Womelsdorf, PA 19567. Agendas, directions and motel information will be provided to those who register for the tour.
Historic Gettysburg Adams County hosts HBFF of PA’s First Annual Meeting
The Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania held its first annual meeting on June 7, 2009 in historic Gettysburg. The day included a business meeting and a tour of historic barns on the Gettysburg battlefield. Historic Gettysburg Adams County, a non-profit organization under the leadership of HBFF of PA member Curt Musselman, hosted the event at their historic headquarters, the Grand Army of the Republic Hall.
“We greatly appreciate all of the assistance that Historic Gettysburg Adams County volunteers provided in making this a successful day,” said HBFF of PA President Sheila Miller. “I also want to recognize the outstanding work of HBFF of PA directors Robert Ensminger and Greg Huber who helped Curt in planning the tour and preparing the booklet on the four battlefield barns that highlighted the afternoon —- the McPherson barn, McClean barn, Sarah Patterson barn, and Culp barn.”
“We were guided through the three National Park Service–owned barns and one privately-owned barn by renowned experts Bob Ensminger and Greg Huber,” noted Miller. HGAC’s Curt Musselman provided information about each barn and its involvement in the historic battle of Gettysburg. (Copies of the Gettysburg barn tour booklet are available for $5 by contacting HBFF of PA )
The Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of PA also held its first election of a fifteen- member Board of Directors: Darwin Braund, State College, 1-year term; Priscilla DeLeon, Bethlehem, 2-year term; Patrick Donmoyer, Kutztown, 1-year term; Robert Ensminger, Bethlehem, 3-year term; Melissa Evans, Goshen, NY, 3-year term; Janice Graver, Bath, 2-year term; John Hackman, Womelsdorf, 3-year term; Jim Hoy, Reading, 3-year term; Greg Huber, Macungie, 3-year term; Jim Lewars, Reading, 2-year term; Jeffrey Marshall, Doylestown, 2-year term; Sheila Miller, Womelsdorf, 1-year term; Rob Reynolds, Kutztown, 2-year term; Ken Sandri, East Stroudsburg, 1-year term; and Eugene Wingert, St. Thomas, 1-year term. Biographies inside. Officers elected are: Sheila Miller, president; Greg Huber, vice president; Ken Sandri, secretary; and Jan Graver, treasurer.
More than 50 people were in attendance from across Pennsylvania. Next year’s annual meeting will be held in Chester County in June 2010.
First Annual Meeting – June 2009
An exciting tour of historic Gettysburg Battlefield barns is in store for you at the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of PA’s first annual meeting. We will be partnering with Historic Gettysburg Adams County – HGAC in planning a memorable day on
Sunday, June 7th.
We will be meeting for a morning business session at the restored Grand Army of the Republic Hall, where we will hear from HGAC President Curt Musselman about their group’s Barn Preservation Project, see a local barn renovation display, and have a delightful lunch. Election of the HBFF of PA’s first official Board of Directors will take place prior to an afternoon of touring three historic barns on National Park Service Property and one privately-owned battlefield barn. Robert Ensminger and Greg Huber will be our talented tour guides, along with Curt Musselman. Seating is limited so sign up today.
BY GREGORY HUBER
(abridged version; complete copies can be purchased by contacting the HBFF of PA for $5 each)
Casper Maul Stone Ground Barn Dated 1791
The Casper Maul barn is a ground barn located in Oley Township. There is no basement in a ground barn – no distinct functional area appears below the wagon bay. The Maul barn is also called a boddam or bottom barn. In the German dialect it is grundscheier.
Two photos of the 1791 dated Maul barn appear in Charles Dornbusch and John Heyl’s classic barn book – Pennsylvania German Barns. The barn is 60 ½ feet along the front wall – one of the longest seen in any early ground barn in Pennsylvania – and 33 ½ feet at each of the end walls.
A liegender Dachstuhl or early style German roof structure with four main trusses is seen in the Maul barn.
Both mow-stead walls are almost completely original and boards are secured with early style wrought nails. On the cow side of the barn are at least three boards 18 inches wide. There is one “doodle” area that has five concentric circles – the outermost one is 32 inches in diameter. The threshing floor consists of mostly original planks up to 15 inches wide. The Maul barn retains a great deal of its original features.
Jacob Keim Homestead – with Early 1750’s Stone House – Ancillary Building and Unique Double Fore-bay Barn
The excellent Jacob Keim homestead offers a wide array of German buildings. The main attraction of the old farm is the large and early main two-section house of all stone construction. The earlier section is from 1750’s and is replete with early German construction features and other details including an extremely rare original second floor chevron door.
The stone ancillary house that stands only about 15 feet from the main house is a rarity as only a few other German homesteads have them. The roof ridgeline is at a distinct angle to the roof ridgeline of the main house. The steep pitched roof is now covered with red tile distinctive of early German house roof coverings.
At the rear of the main house is a unique two-level bank barn. It has no banked or ramped condition at the rear wall. It does have however a cantilevered condition or fore-bay at each side or eave wall. The barn measures about 44 feet long by about 32 feet wide. A hay hood door appears at the roof peak at the one end wall for entry and exit of farm crops.
Diener – Fillman Log Switzer
The Diener Log Transitional Switzer in extreme southern Pike Township is the only log barn that was visited on the tour. Although Berks County still is home to almost 25 log barns, the county two hundred years ago was the residence of hundreds of such generic structures. The earlier style Switzer barn is distinguished from the later and very common Standard barn type in that the Switzer has an asymmetrical roofline and interior framing units that are not contained with the distinctive appendage like fore-bay at the front of the barn. The Diener barn is called a Transitional Switzer in that the end walls fully extend to a point that is in line with the front fore-bay wall.
The one log crib is composed of four log walls while the far crib has one frame constructed wall adjacent to the one wagon bay. The logs are joined at the corners by squared v – notching that is so often seen in eastern Berks County and areas east. West of the Diener barn location half dove-tailed and full dove-tailed corner notching becomes progressively more common in both barns and houses out to Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.
Bertolet-Coker Stone Classic Switzer – Dated 1787
This early barn in Oley Township at the Bertolet homestead is what might be called a masterpiece of barn construction. It is one of the most outstanding barns in not just all of the Oley Valley but in the entire state of Pennsylvania. This is the Bertolet stone classic Switzer in Oley Township. There is a 1770’s two-story stone house with addition and a small stone cabin that is said to have built in the 1730’s. The Bertolet family was of French Huguenot origin and they settled in the Oley Valley in the early 1700’s.
The stone Switzer is actually the older of the two homestead barns. The other barn is a Standard type and is immediately adjacent to the Switzer and is dated 1837. The Switzer barn is, except for the front fore-bay, made completely of stone construction including to the peaks at both end walls and the rear wall and part of the rear wall of the fore-bay. End walls have the very distinctive vertical ventilator slits or splayed loopholes that are commonly seen in pre-1830 barns.
Barn dimensions are not unusual where the end walls are each 33 feet long and the barn length is about 65 feet. The front fore-bay extension is six feet. The barn is of three-bay construction – two end bays and a single wagon bay that has a rare extension at one side below an equally rare swing beam. Tethered horses swung around below the swing beam for the threshing of grains. While the main wagon doors are not fully original the so-called haar-hung doors still swing on their original vertical pivot poles. The doors are extremely rare in any type of barn in Pennsylvania and have ancient roots in Europe. The carved date of 1787 with names of the Bertolet family is seen on the lintel beam above the wagon doors. There are two other exterior features of very particular note. The first is the very rare mostly original short projecting pent roof at the basement level toward the house side of the barn that protected animal and human entries at that end of the barn. The other feature is the extremely rare completely original early style plank stairway that appears at the front of the basement stable wall that leads to the fore-bay. Perhaps even more rare is the fully original wooden trap door with unusual German hinges at the top of the staircase that forms part of the fore-bay floor.
German families often stored their grains in the attics of their houses in much of the eighteenth century. Later they apparently stored grains in closed or walled in spaces in the fore-bays of their barns that were called – appropriately enough – granaries. It appears that the Bertolet barn has the earliest original granary in any barn in Pennsylvania in the fore-bay at the far end of the barn. The ceiling and the walls of the granary formed by wide boards are all secured with wrought nails. The granary door itself is original with rare type wrought metal hinges. Even the grain compartment bins within the granary are formed with partition walls that are mostly original.
The 1837 Standard barn at the homestead is very typical in most regards for a frame constructed bank barn. Built precisely one half century after the stone Switzer was constructed the later barn resulted from the ever expanding need for greater crop storage space that most farms in the northeast experienced during the Industrial Revolution. The craftsmanship in the newer barn is much less fine than that found in the original barn. The two barns offer a wonderful study in contrast between two very different eras of building construction traditions.
Kaufman Homestead – with 1766 House and Two Main Barns
The Kaufman homestead is replete with out-buildings of which the main attractions are two barns. Toward the rear of the farm yard is a massive sized circa 1840 stone Standard barn about 40 feet wide by about 90 feet long. There is an added on out-shed or rear granary at the far end of the barn. Its walls are plastered. The barn is of four-bay construction – two middle wagon bays and two end bays. At the one main wagon entry is another very rare example of original haar-hung wagon doors. Above the wagon doors is a not often seen overhead pentice or roof projection that protects the two wagon doors.
Hewn common rafters are seen and vertical queen posts help support the roof. Rarely seen are original hay-hole shoot frames like open sided boxes that appear – one at either side of each wagon bay. In the basement is a rare condition where an original feeding alley is flanked by original staked mangers at either side that span most of the width of the barn.
A much smaller two-level stone barn is seen at the front of the barn yard. It is about 42 feet long by about 35 feet wide. There is, very oddly, no banked or ramped condition at the rear of the barn. In fact at the rear wall of the barn are three wall openings with stone arched doors. A cantilevered wall or fore-bay appears at the front of the barn. At the end walls are louvered windows. At the house end of the barn is a large wood door opening toward the peak that allowed entry and exit of farm produce. A large impressive single length summer beam seen in the basement supports the upper floor. Two partly original transverse staked mangers survive. Very peculiarly horizontal spriggel bars appear at each animal door at each end of the stable wall. Usually the bars that help to contain stabled horses appear at or toward only one end of a stable wall. This barn may have been for the exclusive use of horses.
Stapleton – Ruth Variant Ground Barn
One of the finest barns of any type in all of Pennsylvania is the Stapleton stone barn in Oley Township. There is a quiet raging debate whether the barn is a variant ground barn – there is no floor level below the threshing bay – or a variant English Lake District barn – as some of these barns are apparently found in that region of northwest England. A date of 1782 is seen on an exterior wood piece and it may be the original date of construction. Only two others barns in southeast Pennsylvania only one of which still stands approximates the general design features of the Stapleton barn and may have experienced similar influences of building traditions.
The distinctive and almost medieval like roof slope of the Stapleton barn is one of the steepest of any barn in the greater Oley Valley. Kicks in the roof appear at each side of the barn. This of course indicates early German roof framing which the barn has. All exterior barn walls possess splayed loop holes. The barn measures 68 feet at each side wall and 33 feet at each end wall. No other ground barn of any type or any close relative built in the eighteenth century attains such a length.
Farm animals were stabled at the basement level at each end bay at very distinctly different floor levels. Above the stables were mow areas for crop storage.
Tuttle Classic Stone Switzer
The Tuttle classic stone Switzer dates from either the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. It is of five-bay construction with two wagon bays and three hay mows – two mows of which are back-to-back.
This barn boasts of an English style Principal Rafter System, the only barn on the tour with such a roof. In certain respects, this roof structure type is similar to the early German style roof in that there are principal rafters. However these rafters in the Tuttle barn extend the full length of each roof slope and are thickened in the middle or mid-span areas for the joining of barn length purlin plates. The Principals are supported by vertical queen posts. Between adjacent Principal Rafters are common rafters that are seen in early German roofs.
One remarkable feature seen in a few mow-stead wall boards are tally marks. Every fifth mark is considerably longer than the preceding marks. In addition, every twenty-fifth mark is considerably longer than the long “every fifth” marks. This tallying system may be unique.
Among other features seen in the barn is an original threshing floor with planks that are pegged. The granary room that is intact with its probable original door is very large in that it extends the widths of two bays. The threshing doors are of frame construction with mortise and tenon joinery that was likely common in barns of 150 to 200 years ago.
Fisher Homestead – Superb 1801 Georgian-Federal Stone House and Unique Stone Variant Two-Level Ground Barn and Massive 1862 Stone Standard Barn
The Fisher homestead in Oley Township is another superb example of a collection of historic buildings. The Fisher place is the home of the latest built house on the tour, constructed by Conrad Heinrich and Gottlieb Drexel in 1801. Two barns are seen at the rear of the house complex. The smaller one is unique in the German cultural landscape. Its type may be called a variant ground barn although it does have two levels. The barn measures about 50 feet long and about 28 feet wide.
An over one hundred foot long stone to the peak Standard bank barn appears a number feet south of the variant ground barn. It is dated 1862. It is of five-bay construction – three side by side wagon bays and two end bays.
2008 Historic Barn Conference
KUTZTOWN — An historic event took place here at the Kutztown University in June, 2008. The Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania welcomed the National Barn Alliance, organization members, and others to Berks County for an annual conference. For the first time, these two non-profit associations whose missions are to record and preserve historic barns across the nation, united their energies and efforts, bringing together enthusiasts of these agricultural icons of the architectural world from seven states and the District of Columbia. This first-time event in the Keystone State was held from June 5th to 7th.
During the conference, keynote speaker Robert Ensminger presented a special reflection on his many years of research. The author of the book, The Pennsylvania Barn, was one of three individuals honored for their studies of historic barns during a tribute dinner.
John Heyl, a renowned architect who inspired many scholars after himself to document the histories of barns, stressed the importance of preserving old barns. Heyl, who has celebrated more than one hundred birthdays, traveled back to Pennsylvania from his adopted home in Maine to participate in this tribute dinner and share his stories. Also honored was retired Penn State professor Dr. Joseph Glass who followed Heyl in his research and academic work.
Other speakers from across the country shared their expertise on barn preservation, timber framing, foundation repairs, and renovation. Among them was Lancaster County’s John High, the “Barn Saver,” who was joined by Dr. Robert Barr, owner of the historic Star Barn located near Middletown, Pennsylvania. They discussed plans that are underway to take down and relocate the historic structure to a new home near Grantville, Dauphin County, in 2009.
Also providing their expertise on historic barns during the conference were: Brian Snyder, Doug Reed, Ken Sandri, Melissa Evans, Greg Huber, Rod Scott, Patrick Dunmoyer, Keith Cramer, Jeff Marshall, Phoebe Hopkins, April Franz, Moss Rudley, and Dr. Rob Reynolds.
A tour of historic barns in Berks County’s Oley Valley concluded the conference and shared a diverse treasure of unique architecture. According to HBFF of PA’s Greg Huber, the Oley Valley reigns supreme in all of Pennsylvania for sheer assortment of early barn types. “Although it covers only three townships almost all major barn styles are represented as barn builders were not lacking in their knowledge and experience of an extensive repertoire of construction types. In using all types of materials – they erected log Switzers, stone Switzers, stone ground barns, variant stone English Lake District barns and other stone and frame barns of types too diverse to discuss here,” he explained. “Builders and farmers alike did not include the word homogeneous in their working vocabularies. In doing so, they left a trail of construction types that makes for what amounts to a giant barn museum. Few areas in all of North America can compete with the Oley Valley for absolute multiplicity of expressions of barn styles.”
“Thank you to everyone who participated in our first historic barn conference.From expert presenters to novice barn admirers to program sponsors, we valued your contribution to this successful event. I especially want to thank Greg Huber and Jeffrey Marshall for writing and organizing our conference barn tour booklet, portions of which are highlighted in this newsletter.We are fortunate to have a wealth of historic barns in Pennsylvania.Our hope is to highlight every region of our state at some point in the future.Be sure to join us in 2009 as we assemble in Gettysburg.”
—- Sheila Miller, president.