The Star Barn

Lower Swatara Twp., Pennsylvania

Click the image above to see a larger photograph.

The following two articles were furnished by
The Friends of the Star Barn
1230 N. Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102

Save the Star Barn- Our Parent’s Legacy... Our Children’s Heritage

The Star Barn has been an important part of the Central Pennsylvania landscape since master carpenter and designer Daniel Reichert built it for banker and gentleman farmer John Motter. This majestic three-level Carpenter Gothic structure is the last remaining of the 15 monumental barns built in Dauphin, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties. The agricultural history of the land the Star Barn rests on, dates to the sale of the property by the Penn family in 1765.

The Friends of the Star Barn came together in 1991 with a mission to preserve this historic and beautiful barn and endow it with a renewed and lasting purpose and value for future generations.

Reorganized in 1995 as an independent nonprofit organization, the Friends are seeking to retain the agricultural and architectural integrity of the Star Barn complex by purchasing the buildings and several acres of surrounding land, for restoration and adaptation for reuse as an agricultural and environmental education center.

It is our hope that by providing a place for both children and adults to learn about sustainable agriculture, our farming heritage, and traditional skills such a black smithing, woodworking, weaving, quilting and candle making, the Star Barn will continue to help enrich our lives, preserve our past and guide our future.

Excerpts from:

A Barn Worth Saving, Jerry Clouse
Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission

While the basic form of the Star Barn is typical of central Pennsylvania, late nineteenth century barns, its architectural details make it conspicuous. Larger than most barns in Central Pennsylvania, it has three threshing floors rather than the more usual two. It is also taller than the typical barns of the area. The additional height allowed for an extra floor where hay or grain sheaves could be stored above the threshing floors. The height of the ground or first floor is also about two feet higher than usual. This ceiling height, the cross paneling of the Dutch doors, the chamfering of the floor joists and ventilator posts all indicate that this was meant to be an exhibition or show area, most likely for Motter’s [the original owner] prize horses. The barn’s cupola was topped with a weathervane punched with hearts and arrows and inscribed with Motter’s name and the date of construction.

Dimensions of the Star Barn: Estimates by Charles Leik

I visited the barn in August 1996 and estimated the height from ground to gable as 40', the length as 110' and width at threshing floor level as 75'. Height to the top of the cupola is certainly 65'. There is a stone-vaulted root cellar under the barn approach (the earth ramp to the threshing floor level). This is an unique and impressive building and although it suffers from years of neglect, the damage has not yet threatened the structural integrity.

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