The Pennsylvania Star Barn {Aged Beauty}

by Cindy on April 13, 2013

A few of my favorite things came together in this week’s Focus on Life challenge – photography and the past.  It is Week 15, and this week’s photo prompt is “Aged Beauty”.

We were heading down PA Rt. 283 just outside of Harrisburg on a recent antiquing trip when I saw it.  This had to be one of the most incredible sites I had ever seen, just glancing out of my window at miles of farmland.  Just 40 feet or so from the road, there stood a very old barn – the Star Barn.  I immediately told my husband to pull over! Luckily the next exit came right up, and we were off to find this vision in chippy white.  Now you have to understand that I am helplessly drawn to old barns, buildings, and houses – especially intriqued by the mystery when they are actually abandoned.

The Star Barn, Middletown PA

I couldn’t believe that I was free to walk around the grounds – any camera-toting person’s dream.  There are some of you that understand this, and others that must think I’m crazy.

I came to learn that this property originally belonged to John Motter, a banker and gentleman farmer.  He hired Daniel Reichert to build the barn in 1872, just 7 years after the end of the Civil War. The Gothic Revival barn is well-known for the 5-pointed stars, which served as ventilators, on all sides.  The “complex” consists of several outbuildings – the corn crib/ carriage house, pig barn, and chicken coop.

The Star Barn, known quite possibly as the most recognized barn in America,  fell into neglect over the years.  It was no longer being used as a farm by 1986.   As land developments encroached upon the farm, the barn and its 3.6 acres were purchased in 2000 by Preservation Pennsylvania. It was then listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   In 2007, the barn was purchased for $100,000 by Robert S. Barr, a local entrepreneur and president of the non-profit group, Agrarian Country.  Plans were in place for the barn to be dismantled (a 7-month process) and moved to a new location.  It was to become the centerpiece of Agrarian County’s agricultural education and a hands-on exhibition center.  The barn remains in its original location as of today however, and plans to develop the agricultural showcase have been delayed by several years now.  Barr has said that the project has been put on hold due to the downturn in the economy, and the inability to secure adequate funding.   I do hope this beloved barn and outbuildings will be maintained for many years to come.

The Star Barn in Middletown, PA

The Star Barn

The Star Barn - Middletown, PA

The Star Barn

Star Barn

The Star Barn

 Painted clapboard siding, a cupola with octagonal spire

Star Barn

The Star Barn Middletown, PA

The 3-story structure was built on a limestone foundation.  The grain silo was later constructed in the 1920s.

The Star Barn

The carriage house

The rest of the family was waiting patiently in the car (okay, I’ll admit my kids didn’t quite get my attraction to an old barn). What a magical time I had though,walking around the property at sunset.  If it hadn’t gotten too dark to continue taking pictures, who knows how long I would have continued to walk around exploring….

Star Barn in Middletown, PA

If you too are drawn by the sentimental beauty of abandoned homes and barns, please join me by following my Once Upon a Time board on Pinterest.

Stay tunedIf you make jewelry, you won’t want to miss the interview in my next post! 🙂

– Cindy, xoxo

Thank you for sharing!
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Email

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie April 13, 2013 at 7:08 am

Your kids might not ‘get it’ but I do. *smile* What a wonderful historic site! I hope they maintain it for years to come.

Kerry April 13, 2013 at 7:19 am

WOW!!! That is an incredibly magical place!! I’ve been waiting to see photos of it and boy was it worth the wait. I sincerely hope that some fall you bring your clan up here. I’ll take you to the old mill trail in Penn Yan. Like this old building, there are old abandoned mills to explore along the trail. I think you’d love it! Plus my favorite antique barn is down there and I’m waiting to take you to that too!!

Carol Myers April 13, 2013 at 7:26 am

Lovely photos of a fabulous barn! I love barns. That may be a new Pinterest for me! Your’s first!

Claire April 13, 2013 at 7:28 am

i agree – it is a magical place! i always love american barns – they are like churches! nothing quite like them in england…
beautiful photos to accompany and really interesting post – thank you!
have a wonderful week 🙂
no. 21

Cynthia April 13, 2013 at 9:36 am

I love old barns! I have been know to have people pull over so I can go photograph as well! This really is a treasure and hopefully will be maintained

Shelly Buettner April 13, 2013 at 11:55 am

Oh Cindy, your photos are just incredible! I would have been out of the car in a flash too, with the hubs and son sitting, waiting,…and waiting!! Thank you for sharing this famous barn w/us here today – I too hope it is maintained and gets to stay where it is. Oh, and thanks for the heads up on the pinterest board – will follow!!

Laurie April 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm

What a great place! Thanks for taking us with you on your exploration!

Nicole Valentine-Rimmer April 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I love old barns, we often pull over in the middle of no where to snap pictures as well. I’ve never seen anything like that star though, that’s really neat.

Janet Bocciardi April 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I love old barns, too and am so sad when I see them falling down. What goes in their place will be a cookie-cutter aluminum thing. I sure hope they get the money to restore and preserve this grand old barn for future generations.

Therese April 13, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Hi Cindy,
I think I have seen this old barn once in my travels to see family in PA, but then there are several old barns in PA not a lot different from this one and each one just as interesting as the other.

Alice April 13, 2013 at 2:39 pm

What a gorgeous barn!! They don’t make them like that anymore. Now it’s metal barns which are quite boring in my opinion. My kids always roll their eyes when I want to take photos of barns. In fact my husband does the same. I’m saving this post in my ‘places I want to visit’ folder. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely barn and outbuildings with us. I do hope the money is found to keep this wonderful barn for many more years.

Stefanie April 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Wow, just wow!

Anne April 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm

We love the star barn! Went to college near there and it always bummed me out how close it was to the road. But that’s how we know about it! I totally understand the photography thing. I should have a bumper sticker that reads, “I brake for ruins and rust.”

Tracy April 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Magical and mysterious! These are gorgeous and the beautiful fading light really adds to the mood of these shots. I can’t wait to find out who you your next post is going to be about! : )

Adrienne April 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Love it, I do this to my family all the time, they’re used to it by now!

LoriF April 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Omigosh, I”m going to see if I see that on our trip down that way next month…beautiful, Cindy! I ADORE old barns, and this one is really special.

Kathy April 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Wonderful Pictures! I have always wanted to do a “Coffee Table Book” of old barns. It’s a great looking place but a couple of those pictures look like they came straight from a horror flick!

Elizabeth April 14, 2013 at 1:39 am

Beautiful photographs! I love old buildings like this 🙂

Beti Horvath April 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

Love your series of photos! That barn is a treasure!

Patty April 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

It’s gorgeous. The architecture is just so stunning for a barn. They are generally utilitarian.

Vicki April 14, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Beautiful barn. We’ll have to visit it sometime. Love old buildings and wondering about what went on in their past. Ingrigue!

Sally Anderson April 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Fascinating, Cindy! I love hearing the results of your research, too. Your photos, as usual, are just outstanding! Back in the 90s I took a whole lot of photography classes, just for fun, at NoVaCoCo. One semester we had to pick a theme and shoot it. I picked old barns & old houses! This made me think I should find those photos and scan them. They aren’t nearly as good as yours. Did a lot of shooting at Stratford Harbor on the Potomac (we had a weekend house down there, our friends still do). There’s lots of great old bldgs there. This brought back some nice memories. Thanks & hugs to you, Cindy!

Annette April 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Wow, I think I could have spent hours there! Your photos are incredible and I love the last one!

Mary Harding April 15, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I have never seen the star barn before. I am taken with its decorative style. Just beautiful. There are many old barns in this area but they have no decorative shapes or details. Still very beautiful too. Your photos are so expressive of their aging beauty.

Christine Damm April 16, 2013 at 8:54 am

What an amazing find, Cindy, and thanks so much for sharing it! It reminds me of our barn– so much character — every bit of craftsmanship is so perfect although it’s disintegrating. This barn looks more like a church than a barn– love those star “ventilators”. And your photos really paid them proper homage.

Sally Russick April 19, 2013 at 7:43 pm

These shots are gorgeous! The star barn looks like a wonderful place and I sure hope that the funding can be found to bring it back to it’s original state! I’m in absolute love with the third photo in this magical collection!!

My husband and son find themselves waiting in the car for me a lot too! LOL!

Becky Pancake May 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

Wow Cindy what a great place. Not far from me one of my friends owns a round barn that I think is cool.Putting the vents in the starts is a unique and beautiful idea.

Carol December 13, 2014 at 10:07 pm

What a fantastic job on taking the pictures of the beautiful Star Barn, I live within walking distance my son played in the barn when he was a child and I am graced by it’s beauty each and every day, sadly the barn has been bought and it will be moved to another location.
I am very sad and wish the barn would stay at it’s original home, the place that it was first built.
I will miss the Star Barn and will be very sad when I am no longer able to walk past it and see this local treasure .

Bill Higgins January 12, 2015 at 5:45 pm

great barn,where can I get scale drawings
of the star barn.

Joann October 2, 2015 at 10:41 am

The barn & buildings are beautiful! Thanks for sharing it. I love old barns, churches, covered bridges, & windmills!

Cindy March 1, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Carol, thank you so much for the update on the barn! I appreciate it.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: