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Historic Barns Presentation Attended by Many

Updated: Apr 6

On Thursday, March 30, the West Vincent Township Meeting Room was filled with 65 attendees who took part in a presentation and general lecture presented by Robert J. Wise, Jr., and Seth Hinshaw, both experts in historic preservation.

Did you know West Vincent is home to over 125 historic barns? Residents learned about these barns, their construction, and followed their evolution. Guests were able to view dozens of photos and pictures containing informative descriptions, and at times, humorous commentary. Old tools from various time periods were also on display.

A few questions from the evening:

Is there a unique construction or framework common among our township’s barns?

Although the lecture examined the major barn types found in Chester County and Southeastern PA, it mainly focused on those most prevalent types found in West Vincent Township such as,

o Sweitzer Barn variants (there are probably no actual Sweitzer barns in the township, but interior examination would be needed),

o Standard Barns (mainly with closed or partially closed forebays),

o “Half” Barns (small usually Standard Barns designed to be expanded on one end),

o English Lake District Barns,

o Double Threshing Floor Barns (or extended bay barns), and

o Upcountry Extended Forebay Barns (usually late 19th century forebay additions to Standard and English Lake District Barns).

Barns in our township are mainly stone with timber framing called “bents” supporting the roof system and dividing the building into bays, and summer beams or girts supporting the flooring system (as well as the bents).

How many barns are still being used for farming/agriculture?

There appear to be few abandoned barns in the township. A handful are still used for farming activities, many have been converted into residential and others have been totally rebuilt but along the same historic type (usually Standard type barns).

What was the largest renovation/repurposing of a barn?

Barns on Bartlett Road, Flowing Springs Road, and Flint Roads have had the most renovations and repurposing work.

If you would like to see more pictures of barns in West Vincent, check out this pictorial presentation created by Karen Oncay.

If you are interested in local history and want to volunteer to be part of the Historic Resources Committee, Join Our Email List under Resources on the township website or visit us at one of our monthly meetings.

The Historic Resources Committee meets the first Tuesday every month at 7:00 p.m. in the Township Building Meeting Room.

Remember it is always fun to take a drive around the roads from French Creek to West Vincent's irregular border to the north and take stock of the barns along the route. Don't forget to include barns that have been repurposed as dwellings or storage facilities!

Pictured (l to r): Burning Tree Farm (St. Matthew’s Road), John Ralston Barn (St. Matthew’s Road), John & Esther Lewis Farm (Underground Railroad station, 1837), Clevenstine Barn (Pughtown Road), George & Phoebe Hipple Farm (Davis Lane), John Fertig Barn (Birchrun Road)


Presenter Biographies

Robert J. Wise, Jr. – Master of Science in Historic Preservation (University of Pennsylvania 1993), Master of Management in Business Administration (Penn State 1993), graduate of Dickinson College. Bob has over 30 years’ experience in historic preservation and cultural resources management services, working as Senior Planner, Historic Preservation at the Brandywine Conservancy’s Environmental Management Center; a Principal Senior Architectural Historian at Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc. (RGA); and as the Principal of Wise Preservation Planning LLC.

His expertise includes local, state, and federal regulatory compliance, intensive level historic architectural surveys, historic structure reports, National Register and National Historic Landmark nominations, NHPA Section-106 consultation, battlefield preservation, site interpretation, resource protection ordinances, municipal planning assistance, façade conservation easements, and grant writing.

He has prepared or co-prepared over 30 National Register and National Historic Landmark nominations with nearly 3,000 historic resources and has documented tens of thousands of historic resources through the completion of county- and municipal-wide historic resource surveys.

Bob volunteers on several boards to share his experience with the community. He is an early member and former president of the Chester County Historic Preservation Network, a county-wide historic preservation advocacy and information organization with over 700 members. In 2001, he helped establish the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust to save the circa 1782 Jones Log Barn and promote historic preservation. He has served on the boards of the Eagles Mere Conservancy, the Open Land Conservancy of Chester County, and the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia. He now chairs the West Vincent Township Historical Commission and serves on the boards of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and the Berwick Stuart Tank Memorial Association, the latter that he also helped establish.

Seth Hinshaw - M.A. History, University of North Carolina-Greensboro and M.S. in Historic Preservation, University of Pennsylvania. Seth has over 20 years of experience as a building documentation specialist in Chester County and works throughout the Mid-Atlantic. He also serves on the Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARB) in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

Seth has documented thousands of buildings in historic resource surveys and related projects throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and, he has successfully co-prepared 22 National Register of Historic Places nominations (two as National Historic Landmarks). His property documentation projects have spanned 11 states.

He also lectures on a wide variety of historic architecture-related topics, including residential architecture, colonial religious architecture, and barns, and has helped train members of historical commissions and HARBs throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.

Visit Seth’s website to review his recent book, “A Field Guide to American Residential Doors” and view his videos discussing the aspects of architectural history.

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