The Lehigh Valley Barn

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Click the image above to see a larger photograph.

This "picture postcard perfect" bank barn is located in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. It was once part of a 129-acre farm that was conveyed in 1847 for $5500, or $42.64 per acre! The barn is 38' wide and 64' long with 4-16' bays at the threshing floor. The basement level has seven pens, each with it own door to the barnyard.

This architectural gem is an example of many barns that are in the path of urbanization. Today the property consists of four acres and the owner has decided to sell the barn and one acre with the stipulation that the barn be preserved. It may be converted to several apartments like the lofts of Lower Manhattan, or to professional offices. One can only hope that the architects will be sensitive to the building's architectural integrity and display as much of the timber framing and stonework in the renovation as possible.

The urbanization of America means that we Preservationists must spread our message to a population that has little firsthand experience of agriculture and rural life but does have a latent interest in connecting to our rural heritage. Although it is preferable to preserve barn where they were constructed and use them for agricultural purposes, the next best option is to find alternative non-farm uses either at their original location or elsewhere. This is certainly preferable to their disappearance.

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