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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The "History On The Move .... At Last" Story

This is a black and white photo taken in April of 1948 by the
Pennsylvania Department of Highways.  Interstate Rt. 283
eventually passed by the complex, leading to its demise.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in front of the iconic Star Barn in Dauphin County, Pennsyl- vania.  The Gothic revival-style barn was built in 1872 by John Motter, a local banker and horse trader who made his fortune selling horses to the U.S. Calvary during the Civil War.  
Painting by local artist David Brumbach
It was intended for use as a horse barn, but the ground floor was altered in the early 20th century to accommo- date dairy cattle.  The barn hasn't been in use for farming for thirty years now.  The significance of the many five-pointed stars on the barn is a symbol of good fortune and protection against demons.  The Star Barn eventually found it's way onto the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission's National Register of Historic Places in 2000.  
My Polaroid of the Star Barn and outbuildings.
Neat barn that has been the subject of many paintings, drawings and photo- graphs.  Back in the late 1990's I took a Polaroid photograph on SX-70 film and altered the resulting image to make it appear as if it were a painting.  Famous local artist David Brumbach has also used the Star Barn as the subject for a few of his paintings.  The barn is the last of 15 Gothic Revival barns that were built over the years in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area.  
Photograph I took about fifteen years ago which shows the
outbuildings as well as one of the stars and cupola.
It is a 5-bay frame barn with star-shaped ventilators centered within each gable end and cross-gable.  It carries a cupola that sits below an octagonal spire.  The spire rises 36 feet above the roof ridge of the barn and has a metal cap in the shape of a fleur-de-lis which is a stylized lily composed of three petals bound together near their bases.  
Workers have begun to remove the wood siding.  All parts
must be marked to be able to reassemble it in another
location.  Similar to putting a full-sized puzzle together.
The current owners have decided to move the barn from its location in Lower Swatara Township to West Donegal Township in Lancaster County.  Last fall the cupolas were dismantled and the building covered.  Now it is time to move the remainder to its new home.  In order to gain acceptance for the move with the local government and retain its National Register placement, it must be disassembled and rebuilt exactly as it stands in Dauphin County.
Photograph of the Belmont Farm and outhouse before it was
disassembled and moved.  It once stood in my neighborhood, but
will not be part of Ironstone Ranch and a neighbor of the Star Barn.
The project is monu- mental, as you can imagine, and is expected to take most of the summer.  It will eventually be part of a rural education center and venue for weddings and other events.  It will stand near the Belmont Barn which was built in the 1860s.  The Belmont Barn included a tobacco house, corn crib, carriage house, milking parlor and farmhouse.  
One more view of workers removing
siding from the Star Barn.
I wrote several stories on the Belmont Barn in the past, since it once stood about three blocks from my home in Lancaster.  All that remains now near my home is the original farm house.  The barn was removed to make way for a shopping center, of all things.  The Belmont Barn and outbuildings will be rebuilt after the Star Barn is in place on what is known as the Ironstone Ranch which is a 275 acre farm that Abraham Lincoln's funeral train, as well as the train which carried the Liberty Bell, once traveled on an ancient railroad bed.   So, you see, history will continue to live on in Lancaster County, PA.  Hopefully!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 


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