A Barn with Many Questions in the Saucon Valley

Posted on Sep 24, 2012

This is a guest post by Jeff Marshall, NBA Vice  President.

The Saucon Valley Conservancy held its annual barn tour on September 15, 2012.  The Saucon alley is located in southeastern Pennsylvania including parts of Bucks, Lehigh and Northampton counties.  This year the focus of the barn tour was twentieth century barns where in the past, 18th and 19th century barns were featured.  The barns included several late versions of Pennsylvania barns as one would expect to see in this region and other examples of gambrel roof barns that are typically seen in other sections of the country.

According to information compiled by Greg Huber, this barn was designed by Bethlehem architect C. F. Spangenberg in the 1920s.



I know from basic research that there are distinct varieties of framing methods related to gambrel roof barns.  As someone who deals with older timber frame barns I am not that familiar with the distinctions.  Any help would be appreciated.

Both of the silos have stamped tiles that read “J. M. Preston Lansing Mich.” with a series of patent dates from 1910 through 1913.  A quick internet search came up with the information that the Preston Lansing Vitrified Tile Silos and Storage Bins had branch factories in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa.  Any additional information about the company would be appreciated.

The barn has a number of metal ventilators.  I am familiar with common designs used by Louden and James, and I believe I have seen this type of filigree work on weathervanes on other ventilators, but cannot identify the company.

The farm also had another unusal structure for a Pennsylvania farm, a granary building with a transverse cupola which I believe was typically designed for a grain elevator.  The interior of the structure has bins with boards that have spaces between them such as we find on corn cribs in our region.  Any information on these types of buildings would also be appreciated.

If you have any information, please let me know. I can be contacted at JLMarshall1@comcast.net

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  1. Jeff: What a great example of a Shawver Truss system of the upper floor of the barn leaving totally open space for hay storage…Bob Sherman

  2. Jeff: The granary/corn crib that you note was very popular in the “I” states of the Midwest in the ’30s and ’40s. The slatted areas on the side were for ear corn and allowed the winter winds to continue drying the moisture down and then in the winter a stationary tractor powered sheller would shell the kernels from the cobs. Some of this corn was sold and could now be stored w/o molding and the balance was fed to hogs and cattle on the farm.

    The transverse building on the top is the headhouse where small grain (oats, wheat, rye) was elevated to and then flowed by gravity into bins.

    These are handsome buildings but the corn crib is no more as corn is harvested and shelled in one operation in the field and on-farm grain storage today uses round tanks of up to several hundred thousand bushels and is elevated by the grain leg to steel pipes that by gravity grain flows to the tanks below. Those pipes are quite elevated and steep because before the grain is dried it flows more slowly and needs those steep inclines.

    Sadly the type of granary you describe is like barns disappearing.

    Charles Leik