Iconic, historic Star Barn may be on the move

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – It is iconic. It is historic. It is eye-catching.

And the Star Barn may soon be on the move. For nearly a century and a half, it’s had a starring role in the Midstate.

“It is an example of a Gothic Revival barn,” gushed Howard Pollman of the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. “It was built in 1872. It is an icon along 283.”

But the star has certainly faded. The elements have taken a toll, so has nearby development and ever-present highway traffic mere feet from its back door.

“It is not in good condition,” Pollman said. “Let’s face it, the Star Barn has been needing help for some time. Various groups have come up over the years wanting to do something with it and it hasn’t really panned out.”

But there’s a new plan for the old barn courtesy of new owner, Palmyra-based DAS companies.

“We’re gonna try to take it down piece by piece,” said Mike Kleinhans, the project spokesman and manager. “We’re gonna move it somewhere where we can have the public be able to go into it, enjoy it, and be part of the heritage that’s already there.”

The plan is to move the Star Barn 12 miles, from Lower Swatara, Dauphin County to the Inronstone Ranch in West Donegal Township, Lancaster County.

Crews have already taken down and packed up outer buildings and their cupolas. They’re stored in bundles inside the main barn.

“All this wood here is all catalogued and marked for the purposes of putting it back the way it was,” Kleinhans said.

A hand-laid limestone tunnel underneath the barn will also make the trek to a new home.

“We’re gonna take it all down and build it all up from scratch, piece by piece.”

The job will be neither quick nor cheap.

It’s expected to take two years and cost millions.

“We have an owner (David Abel) who’s very interested in old structures and the preservation of those types of things,” Kleinhans said. The dream is to make the barn part of an agri-tainment complex. The barn would be open to the public for weddings or corporate functions like team building.

Before the main barn is disassembled, approvals are needed from West Donegal Township. Informal conversations have begun but more formal talks with officials are expected in coming weeks.

“We need their approvals for ordinances and regulations and codes,” Kleinhans said. “We need to work with them to be able to make this happen.”

There have been numerous plans in the past to re-purpose the Star Barn. Many are hoping this will come to fruition.

“We would normally discourage moving a national registered property,” explained Pollman.

But the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commisison has given its blessing to the move, should it occur.

It wants to see this star, once again, shine.

“If somebody wants to preserve it, move it, give it a good home, it’s fantastic,” Pollman said.

 

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