A Barn with Many Questions in the Saucon Valley

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


Fall is a Perfect Time for a Drive to See Barns!


Perfect time to enjoy the cooler weather, beautiful colors, and wonderful barns! Tours are being held all over the country from the fast-paced city of LA to laid-back Mackinac Island. Visit our events page to find a barn tour near you.

So grab your camera and go exploring the country roads!

Baseball and Barns… Summer Vacation 2012

A guest post by Michigan Barn Preservation Network members, Chuck and Janine Saputo.

It started out all baseball and the barns showed up.  My husband Chuck and I are active in the Michigan Barn Preservation Network due to our rural preservation interest mainly here in Michigan.  We often brake for barns during our travels and in fact just discovered Coveyou Farm south of Petoskey Michigan on our way ‘up north’ for a summer weekend.  But that’s another story. This summer Chuck wanted to spend his birthday visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York, fulfilling a lifelong childhood back lot baseball playing dream of long ago.  We set the dates, made the reservations and set off in early July for five days leaving work, home improvements and yard begging and all other ties behind.

The Finger Lakes region in western New York with its lakes and wineries looked like an attractive route to our fun time destination Cooperstown. We booked the downtown Inn at Cooperstown B&B and looked forward to baseball, some small town Main Street time and relaxing. Tired of the expressways after Buffalo, we took Highway 5 east towards the Finger Lakes and started to notice each of the progressively older historic towns along the way…and the barns… Once in the Finger Lakes we were amazed at all the winery choices!  Visiting several along the west

Billsboro Winery on Seneca Lake, west shore, south of Geneva, Finger Lakes,

Seneca Lake shoreline, we immediately braked when we saw Billsboro Winery.  Yes a huge red gable barn with a quilt board affixed, grabbed our attention.  The barn serves as a very attractive tasting room, event center, lake view point and historic farm structure all adding to the tasting experience you can be sure… Ice wine tasting too! But back to baseball!

Old farmstead north of Schuyler’s beach, Cooperstown, NY
Barn has high stone foundation, quoining at the corners.

Oh yes,  we drove Cayuga Lake shore checking out more wineries and were greeted by a unique eight-sided behemoth old barn set on a tall stone foundation.  Pulling to a stop along the highway again for a barn, I grabbed the camera and investigated this unique farm building, still in use.  The nearby shed was unusual too. Our area of Michigan is no stranger to octagon barns but this one had a large detailed eight sided cupola and that distinctive stone foundation.  Near Seneca Lake ( a must stop town) we shopped at Sauder’s unique country store.  The parking lot was loaded with small barns of all types, roof lines and styles… in case you want to buy a barn on vacation. But back to baseball! Arriving in Cooperstown it was plain to see the wonderful American heritage architecture of western New York.  But baseball is the main attraction here everywhere.  We dived into the baseball atmosphere and thoroughly enjoyed the Hall of Fame and the downtown, even in the height of the busy summer season. With no barns downtown to be seen, it now was all baseball.

This the main barn at the Farmer’s Museum and was the center of the dairy farm that stood here. Just a wonder of stone by an Irish mason. Note the stone silos, they are the men’s and women’s restrooms inside. A unique experience.

With a final day before heading back, we saw two attractions, one titled The Farmers Museum and the other, Fennimore Art Museum, within walking distance of the our Inn.  Ready to choose when we reached the fork in the road, The Farmers Museum huge stone barn visible from the road, got our vote on this trip.   The tug to see this magnificent structure revealed four more unique historic barns on the farm grounds each dating back to 1790.  Each restored barn was in its traditional use with unique features and construction. Farm animals, crops, gardens and the most knowledgeable and friendly costumed docents added to the visitor experience. The 1900s stone Main Barn houses exhibits in a space worthy of any art gallery and still shows its amazing towering framing.  The two stone silos serve as unique restrooms.    Not to be missed!  The Farmers Museum is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as Cooperstown. Back home we tell everyone about our wonderful New York trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame and about those barns….

4-H Barn Owl Day in Schenectady County (NY)!

In June, NBA Board Member Keith Cramer lead a workshop for Schenectady County 4-H in building nesting boxes for barn owls. Fourteen 4-H’ers each built an owl box. The boxes will be exhibited this summer at the County Fair.

Later, we had a presentation by Wes Laraway, Director of New York Wildlife Rescue Center, about  “Bringing Barn Owls Back to Eastern NY State”. The stars were two beautiful owls that had been healed of injuries at the Wildlife Rescue Center. Mr. Laraway explained the important role barn owls have in controlling rodents on a farm, and that if our farms had a place for the owls to nest, they would return. All these boxes will eventually be mounted at the 4-H’ers farms, so we will see if it works.

The workshop was a success and we already have some orders to sell more owl boxes. We hope to turn this into an annual event and help bring these wonderful birds back to our area farms.

Site Sponsor & Host: The Mabee Farm Historic Site.

Co-Sponsors: National Barn Alliance (NBA)  and Dutch Barn Preservation Society (DBPS).

Tobacco Barns Preservation Project

Photo courtesy of Preservation Virginia.


Preservation Virginia has launched in tobacco barns preservation project. Sonja Ingram, Preservation Virginia’s Partners in the Field Representative stated, “Upon the Pittsylvania County Tobacco Barns listing on Preservation Virginia’s Most Endangered list, we received an influx of inquires regarding the importance of saving these now endangered structures and wanted to provide a proactive solution to address their preservation.”

The Tobacco Barns Preservation Project’s goals are to raise awareness on the importance of tobacco barns as they relate to the larger rural landscapes of Virginia; to educate the public and students on the importance of local agricultural heritage; and to create a model that can be used in other regions of the state to help protect Virginia’s rural, agricultural heritage resources.

A large part of the project will include a volunteer survey to assess the number, types and conditions of tobacco barns in the county for further research and protection programs. The survey project starts this fall.

In addition to introducing the program, the initial meeting was attended by over forty people interested in barn preservation and provided barn owners with information on adaptive reuse strategies and potential economic advantages of barn preservation through agritourism and heritage tourism. Farmers, local government representatives, historic and social organizations and anyone interested in learning about protecting tobacco barns and other rural heritage resources are invited to attend. Volunteers will also be sought at the initial meeting to assist with the survey and documentation portion of the project.

Dominating the Virginia economy after 1622, tobacco remained the staple of the Chesapeake colonies and its phenomenal rise is one of the most remarkable aspects of Virginia. The production of “bright-leaf” tobacco in Virginia’s Piedmont made many towns and counties, including Danville and Pittsylvania County, major suppliers of tobacco for Virginia and the nation. For centuries, log built and wood-frame tobacco curing barns have graced the agricultural fields of Virginia. The survey will entail photographing and documenting tobacco barns in Pittsylvania County. A training session will be held before the survey begins to provide basic survey techniques.

However, due to tobacco buy-out programs, a general decline in farming and advances in tobacco curing technologies that left older barns obsolete; historic tobacco barns— a lasting symbol of the rural heritage of the Commonwealth and the nation— are now being lost at an alarming rate.

An important piece of Virginia’s rural heritage and vernacular architecture is in great threat.  And this project hopes to change that so that future generations can enjoy these barns.

If you would like to get involved in this program, please contact Sonja Ingram at Preservation Virginia.