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The Barn as Artform

Old barns are the standing stones of the American countryside, relics of a time when working farms overspread the land like a patchwork quilt. These structures remain integral to our national consciousness, resolute reminders that hard work in close contact with the earth, productivity, and ingenuity are essential elements of the American character. The "Pennsylvania Barn" has earned a particular distinction. From the mid-1700s until roughly 1900, immigrant farmers and their descendents introduced to Pennsylvania the functional genius of their familiar German and Swiss farm architecture, a form eventually adopted by farmers well beyond the borders of Pennsylvania.  Not only did form follow function. The barns were simply beautiful.

Many of these barns have vanished along with their farms, but thankfully many remain.  Today there is a growing commitment to preserve and if possible restore these cultural and architectural treasures. This gallery contains images of several of these structures, built over 150 years ago, all save one in the immediate vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Standing in the midst of the horrific Civil War battle, they afterwards provided shelter to the wounded.  These structures form an honorable chapter in the telling of the American narrative. As such, and as works of art in their own right, I gratefully include them here.

First Light, Abraham Trostle Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
First Light, Michael Bushman Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Edward McPherson Barn, Gettysburg Battlefield
David Klingel Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Klingel Barnyard. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Hot Blood Flowing, Mose McLean Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
A World of Suffering: George Spangler Barn, 11th Corps Field Hospital. Photograph by Dan Mangan
West Wall Mosaic, Henry Spangler Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Point of the Spear, Abraham Trostle Farm. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Croix de Guerre, Joseph Sherfy Barn, Gettysburg Battlefield
Ancient Wood, George Spangler Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Joseph Sherfy Board and Batten Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Whitewashed Brick, Abraham Trostle Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Blue Jaunting Cart, Bay Mare. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Detail, Abraham Trostle Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Foundation of the Farm Life, George Spangler Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
Diptych: Joseph Sherfy Barn. Photograph by Dan Mangan
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