How do you move a barn? Very carefully it turns out. For many years residents Central Pennsylvania have driven by the Star Barn while driving between Lancaster and Harrisburg on Route 283. Those motorists have watched as the historic barn deteriorated over the years until it was all but falling apart.
The Star Barn and its outbuildings, or Walnut Hill, was built it 1872 in Lower Swatara Township in Dauphin County by John Motter to function as a barn, pigsty, carriage house, chicken coop, grain silo and milk house. It was built in the Gothic Revival style with an immense cupola on its cross-gable roof and it gets its nickname from the star-shaped louvers located on two sides of the barn. It is also famous for its trefoil carved gingerbread trim. In 2000 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, 14 years after it was last part of a working farm with a goal to preserve the structure.
Some could not simply watch the barn, already in disrepair, just simply fall apart. Preservation efforts had begun in the 1990s but no one group had the money to preserve the barn at its present location. DAS Companies bought the property and announced plans to move the barn to its Ironstone Ranch property in West Donegal Township in Lancaster County where it will be featured as part of an agricultural heritage exhibit. Dismantling began in October of 2015.
DAS has said that it will take almost two years for the barn to be disassembled and painstakingly restored. Throughout the whole process the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will be working closely with DAS. The barn, along with it is hoped its outbuildings, will be restored and reassembled and become part of a working farm and showcase for Pennsylvania rural life. This is just a reminder that barns can be more than wooden structures, they can be works of art. For move information on the Star Barn check out thestarbarn.com.