A Self-Guided Driving Trail
There’s nothing like a day in the country. The scent of freshly-cut hay, the sound of cows mooing in the pasture and the sight of tractors planting tilled fields seem to transport us to a time when a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive defined family entertainment.
We invite you to spend a day meandering along our scenic back roads to enjoy The Barns of Butler County. Put the windows down, turn the radio up and forget about your e-mails for a while. Now is the time to enjoy an old-fashioned drive with no place to go except through the beautiful farmlands of Butler County.
Asgard Acres Alpaca Farm
180 Nursery Rd., Renfrew
Year Built: 1850s
Unique Feature: Used by Brown Nursery which the road was named for
Recently receiving a bit of a facelift by the Amish, this traditional bank barn is currently used to house the Rost family horse and alpaca as well as hay storage for the other 30+ alpacas on the farm. The barn was used for decades to store materials for the Brown Nursery (that Nursery Rd was named for). Believed to have been built in the 1850's, the old farm house and barn were left vacant for many years, but have for the last 25 years, been brought back to life for animal and farm equipment use.
Betsy's Barn at Cheeseman Farm
147 Kennedy Rd., Portersville
Year Built: 1999
Size: 106 x 70 ft.
Unique Feature: This barn is used for agritainment rather than agriculture
Betsy's Barn is a German-style bank barn built in 1999 on Cheeseman Farm. It is built on a poured concrete wall 10 inches thick. The original 40’ x 80’ barn is framed and sided in yellow poplar. In 2009, an addition nearly doubled the size of the barn.
Unlike most barns in Butler County, this structure was never used for livestock. The barn is rented for large events such as weddings, receptions and class reunions. It is most widely known as the site of Cheeseman's Pumpkin Festival and Cheeseman’s Fright Farm where thousands of people flock each autumn.
204 Anderson Rd., Butler
Year Built: 1800s
Size: 66 x 30 ft.
Unique Feature: The support beams and rafters are entire trees with bark
For generations, the Anderson family used the barn primarily for dairy cows. In the early 1900s, the barn was disassembled, moved approximately 100 feet to its current resting spot and rebuilt beam-by-beam. The original milk house is still present and is easily viewed from the road. In the 1950s, the barn was idled when government subsidies were given for not farming.
After the absence of animals for nearly 30 years, new property owners converted the barn to house quarter horses. The barn took on a new look as well. It was painted white and topped with a green roof. The upstairs remains original with soaring beams, rafters and a working hay trolley. In 2008, new residents in the form of alpacas arrived. Today, this historic barn is used to raise alpacas and educate the public about these animals.
356 Marwood Rd., Cabot
Year Built: 1870
Unique Features: Pennsylvania Century Farm mural
This bank barn has only had two owners in its 140+ years. It was built by the Lang family in 1870 and purchased by the Cypher family in 1905. There has never been a commerical application to the farm - just family use. Formerly used to house hay, grain, farm equipment and cattle, the barn now houses antique tractors and old farm equipment. There were white face Hereford cattle until 1997. The Cypher Farm is a Pennsylvania Century Farm, meaning the same family has owned the farm for at least 100 consecutive years with a family member living there on a permanent basis. To showcase this, Scott Hagan, a nationally-recognized barn artist from Ohio, was commissioned to paint a mural. The tractor shown in the mural represents the farm's very first tractor, an early 1900s Fordson.
Drovers Inn Farm
339 Mercer Rd., Harmony
Year Built: 1835
Size: 40 X 80 ft.
Unique Features: Stone barn features four silos
Located just north of the town of Harmony, this property was included in Abraham Zeigler’s purchase of the community in 1815. Zeigler gave the farm to his daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband Aaron Schontz. The barn is constructed entirely of stone and features round date stones at each gable peak with the inscription: Aaron and Elizabeth Schontz.
Jacob Wise purchased the house and barn in 1886 and it remains in the Wise family today. For more than 100 years, the farm was operated as a modern dairy farm. In addition to the unique stone barn, the four silos, one of which is built within the barn, are also unusual. The first two, built in 1914 and 1918, were among the first silos in the area. They were made of tile and used to store winter feed for the dairy herd. About 100 years after the barn was built, an additional silo was constructed with used brick.
The lower level of the barn contained stalls for dairy cattle and horses that worked the surrounding farmland. Fifty dairy cattle were kept in individual stanchions and milked twice a day, producing as much as 300 gallons of milk daily. After tractors were introduced, a one story addition and another cement silo were added.
A large cistern was built into the wing opposite of the internal silo. It collected the rainwater from the roof and used gravity to distribute water to each stall.
The inn/home on this farm was built by the Harmonist Society sometime around 1810. It may have been built as a shepherd’s home and then used as an inn for travelers. It was possibly the only frame house built by the Harmonists, with all others being brick. Historical findings reveal that the upstairs was probably used as two large sleeping dormitories and the downstairs was a tavern. Double porches were built on both the front and back. The inn became an overnight stop for drovers moving livestock from the north to Pittsburgh. The side yard and barn held many pens where cattle and other livestock were held overnight as the drovers slept in the inn, thus the name, Drovers Inn Farm.
725 Three Degree Rd., Butler
Year Built: 1914
Size: 40 x 70 ft.
Unique Feature: A water-collecting cistern and three distinctive cupolas
One of the county’s most beautiful barns is adorned with three cupolas across the roofline. While the cupolas at Fairfield Farm provide ventilation for the building, they also add architectural detail that makes this barn memorable.
The lower level was designed for dairy purposes. It features individual stanchions for dairy cows, a tracked manure carrier and windows that can be opened on the east and south sides for ventilation.
Since this bank barn is located on a piece of flat land, the builder actually constructed a dirt “bank” to provide access to the second level. Located behind the large doors visible from the road, the second level includes a threshing floor and granary. It also has mows on each end and a loft over the main floor to store hay and straw. Several vents in the siding (painted brown) also provide ventilation.
Beneath the peak of the roof is a track and hay carrier which was used to lift and carry loose hay or straw for storage (before balers and elevators).
An unusual feature of the barn is a cistern built into the bank. Gutters collect rainwater from the roof and downspouts carry the water to the cistern. A valve on the lower level allows the water to flow directly into a trough to give the cows a drink.
Harmonist Ziegler-Wise Barn
303 Mercer Rd., Harmony
Year Built: 1805
Size: 50 x 73 ft.
Unique Features: The region’s oldest barn
The Harmonist Ziegler-Wise Barn is home to the only surviving barn among the three communities established by the communal Harmony Society of German Lutheran Separatists. The barn was built in 1805 to shelter sheep and was modified in the 1850s. The silo, built of paving bricks, was added ca. 1950.
Harmony was the Harmony Society's first American home. The community’s 9,000 acres were bought by Abraham Ziegler in 1815 after the Harmonists moved to southwestern Indiana Territory. The farms were settled by several Ziegler children and other Mennonite families. Son David's farm included this barn and the adjacent house by the Connoquenessing Creek.
In the mid 1990s much of the farm was sold to developers. Historic Harmony bought the barn in 1999 to ensure its preservation as a museum annex. The $180,000 investment included the site's purchase, an architect's historic structure report and repairs including more than 2,000 new roof slates, new siding stained a historically accurate red (probably the barn's third sheathing) and new electric service. The entire farm is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.
Love Barn at Fieldstone
248 Westminster Rd., Saxonburg
Year Built: 1865
Size: 40 x 60 ft.
Unique Feature: Now used as a site of weddings and receptions
Built by John Love following his return from service in the Civil War, this barn was typical of barns at that time with hand-hewn oak beams pinned together with wooden pegs. The original roof was replaced at least once previously. The original roof rafters made from five inch saplings were replaced in 2009. The floor joists are each made of oak from a single tree of sufficient size and strength to span the entire 40’ width of the barn with only minimal support. A wall of locally cut sandstone holds back the “bank” in the lower (livestock) level that is still used daily during winter calving season.
Today, this farm is owned by eighth generation descendants of James Love who immigrated from Ireland and settled on this farm in 1816. It is known as a popular wedding location for couples in the tri-state area.
Marburger Dairy Barn
1506 Mars-Evans City Rd., Evans City
Year Built: 1980
Unique Features: Visitors can meet the cows who reside in this barn
This barn is at least the third structure to be built on this site. The first barn remembered by the Marburger family caught on fire in 1912 when a threshing machine exploded.
The next barn was a large bank barn that housed horses the family bred and raised. By the end of the 1930s, the farm changed over to a dairy farm and the barn was enlarged in the ‘60s. Unfortunately, history repeated itself in 1979 when an electrical fire destroyed the structure, one of the largest dairy barns in Western Pennsylvania. Nearly all of the cattle survived the fire.
The present “free stall” barn was built in 1980 and features five silos that store feed. The barn is home to about 150 cows who are milked twice daily in a 12-cow milking parlor.
Since the barn was built, several structural changes have been made including opening up the walls which were originally solid. Dairy cows tend to give more milk when they are cool – just one example of how Marburger Farm is dedicated to improving milk production.
1153 West Liberty Rd., Slippery Rock
Year Built: Late 1800s
Unique Feature: The Miller Esker is located behind the barn
The centerpiece of the Miller Farm is a late 1800s barn used to house cattle. A straw shed was added in the 1930s to triple the size of the original structure and provide pens for cattle, as well as to store crops. A new roof, steel siding, rain gutters and windows were installed in 2009 by an Amish crew, and a cupola was added to replace the original one that was destroyed during a windstorm. The barn is part of a 200-acre farm that clearly demonstrates strip farming, with colorful strips of hay, corn, oats and soybeans.
The farm is currently owned by the granddaughter of the original owner, Brice S. Miller, who specialized in registered Holsteins. In the early 1900s, milk was transported from the farm to his brothers, owners of the Evergreen Dairy near Pittsburgh.
In addition to the barn, the buildings in use on the farm are original structures. The bricks for the house were made on the farm, and the spring house/granary has been maintained with the original cold water storage area. The water from the spring accommodated the needs of the house, barns and animals, and still supplies the house today.
White Oak Farm
356 Old Route 68, Evans City
Year Built: 1905
Size: 65 x 40 ft.
Unique Feature: Hosted church services, a funeral, two baptisms, a wedding and two rock concerts
The barn at White Oak Farm was built using the frame of another barn originally located between Evans City and Zelienople. When the barn was rebuilt on its current site in 1905, the outside was covered with clapboard siding rather than the sheeting typically found on barns. While the siding provides the barn with a distinctive exterior, it does require frequent maintenance and is repainted every seven-to-eight years (always white with green trim).
In 1960, the owner purchased 20 springing heifers (pregnant cows) that were transported to the farm from Michigan. Within two months, the calves were born and the farm transformed from a cattle farm into a dairy farm virtually overnight. The farm began bottling an average of 100 gallons of milk per day. A sales room was added to accommodate the business. In 1961, the milk was sold for 60 cents a gallon. The dairy herd was sold in 1973.
While the barn is now rented for storage, it has also served in some unusual capacities. In 1997 and 1998, the owner’s grandson staged two rock concerts in the barn. Between July and October 2001, the barn was the site of weekly services for St. John’s Evans City UCC Church while the building was being remodeled. A thank you plaque from the church’s pastor commemorates this unusual time and is prominently displayed inside the barn.
552 West Park Rd., Portersville
Year Built: 1893
Size: 56 x 40 ft.
Unique Feature: 12-14” wide planks nailed together to form the beams and framework in the barn, a method not commonly used
The farm was originally a dairy farm with 120 acres. It has since grown to 200 acres, farmed only for grain.
The barn was built in 1893, with the year still faintly visible through layers of cream, grey and red paint that have coated the exterior over the years. It has a forebay that is covered by two additions and features a silo made from bricks delivered by the Western Allegheny Railroad to the Portersville station in the early 1900s.
Two granaries remain in their original state and some of the cow stanchions and calf pens can still be found in the barn, as well as the original hay fork used to lift hay from wagons into the hay mow.
Mr. Wimer chuckled while confessing that his grandfather kept a whiskey bottle hidden in the oats bin inside the granary. Apparently his grandmother didn’t approve of having alcohol in the house so the bin was the perfect hiding place. That explains why the men always seemed to disappear to the barn during Sunday afternoon visits with relatives and friends!