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Tom Raymond

Southern PA barn style

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This barn is in the middle of the battle field National Park in Gettysburg. It is a bit unusual that it is masonry all the way to the gables (the only other I saw like it was brick and also in the Park) but the style is prevalent throughout the area. Nearly every barn I saw from Gettysburg, East on the Lincoln Highway, over the Sannondoah Summit, and through the Moshannon forest was of similar style. Most of those had one or more lean-to additions, and nearly all had the overhang.

I was wondering if any of the brethren here could explain the function of the overhang? There was no particular orientation, they seemed to face in whatever direction worked best for the land. Some had columns under them while others just projected off the side of the barn. Many had walls on one end, and some had been closed in to create store rooms.

I only saw two barns that weren't gable ended on this trip; the round barn Bill so kindly pointed out for John Dirks, and a monster stone gambrel somewhere in the mountains, easily 60' x 250'

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It is a bit unusual that it is masonry all the way to the gables (the only other I saw like it was brick and also in the Park) but the style is prevalent throughout the area.

A majority of the remaining Bank Barns in southeast PA are stone on 3 sides.
I was wondering if any of the brethren here could explain the function of the overhang? There was no particular orientation, they seemed to face in whatever direction worked best for the land. Some had columns under them while others just projected off the side of the barn. Many had walls on one end, and some had been closed in to create store rooms.
All PA bank barns have the overhang. It's called the forebay. It is the granary section of the barn. It also provides shelter to the stall doors and part of the cattle yard below.

The "orientation" is usually exactly south, because the downhill side of the bank barn would benefit from more sun exposure.

The barn in your picture is a Sweitzer barn, so named for the Swiss Mennonite settlers that developed that style. Sweitzers have a fully cantilevered forebay, without posts, piers or peilerecks (pillar corners) for support. Also, the main roof extends over the forebay without any change of slope on the Sweitzers.

The frame structure on the bank side is an addition. These additions were usually added inittially as "horsepower sheds". A horse-powered treadmill, and later steam engines, using a belt, operated equipment like threshers.

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The "orientation" is usually exactly south, because the downhill side of the bank barn would benefit from more sun exposure.

How is the southern sun exposure a benefit Bill?

In winter, the sun travels lower across the southern sky; Passive solar - the downhill side of the barn has the larger surface area. There were more openings on the downhill side, resulting in more daylight entering - and longer near the end of the day. The forebay provided shade to the yard in the summer and less shade in the winter.

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