Historic barn Reborn in East Hempfield

By Rochelle A. Shenk
April 30,2003 Lancaster Newspapers

If you drive by the 1852 Herr family Homestead on Nissley road, you’ll notice that the barn is a beehive of activity. That’s because the Amos Herr House and foundation is undertaking a renovation of the barn.

John Houston, a foundation member and the coordinator of the renovation said the goal is to create a museum of 19th century farm life and to showcase activities that may have taken place in the mid-to-late 1800s.

“We have a collection of implements and artifacts dating to that time,” he said “We also have a locally made carriage that belonged to the Herr family that has been restored and donated to us.

Eileen Johns also has coordinated several aspects of the renovation The Herr Family homestead, at 1756 Nissley Road, adjoins the East Hempfield Township Municipal Building, which was designed to complement the architectural style of the home and barn.

The Amos Herr Homestead Foundation estimates that the barn is the same age as the present house‑‑circa 1850

“We think parts of the barn came from a log house.” Houston said. The bank barn, with its stone gable ends, remains a classic example of mid-19thcentrury Lancaster County barn architecture. Houston said that in the years since Amos Herr died in 1987, not much was done to repair the barn. It was used by the township mostly for storage

Restoration of the barn began about five years ago. So far, the slate roof has been repaired; rotten timbers, broken windows, most of the doors and all the window sashes have been replaced; the entire barn floor was re‑concreted; repairs were made to the foundation walls; and lightning rods have been installed.

“We do another step as funds become available,” Houston explained.

Currently the stone walls are being cleaned and repointed, some trees that were too close to the barn were removed, and the barn is being prepared for repainting

“We’re using contractors where necessary but we also have a lot of volunteers working on this project;” he said. “The tree surgeon removed the trees, and we saved same money by having our volunteers clean up the debris.”

Funds for the renovations come from several sources.

“The East Hempfield supervisors have really been generous to us,” explained Sue Bleil, president of the Amos Herr House Foundation. “They’ve donated $20,000 to the foundation each year for the past several years The stipulation is that those funds must be used to do some improvements on the property.”

The foundation also received a $10,000 grant from the Ressler’s Mill Foundation about three years ago. The funds were used in a phase of the barn restoration project. Funds for the project are also received through the Amos Herr 5K Honey Run that is held in the summer and sponsored by Dutch Gold Honey.

“We use those funds to do the smaller projects,” Bleil said.

Future restoration work will include the addition of electric lighting, repair and replacement of concrete in various areas, and signs and displays for a self‑guided tour of the barn.

“We want to show people what a barn was used for;” Bleil said. “Even though we think of Lancaster County as a farming area, many people don’t know a lot about barns.”

Barn Renovation