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.
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.
Painted clapboard siding, a cupola with octagonal spire
The 3-story structure was built on a limestone foundation. The grain silo was later constructed in the 1920s.
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….
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.