If ever chased, head to a certain red barn off state Route 45 near Centre Hall.
It's impossible to be cornered there.
The “Round Barn,” as it’s popularly known, attracts plenty of photographers intrigued by the picturesque circular landmark, the last of its kind in central Pennsylvania. For other admirers, memories can be as vivid as a snapshot.
“I’ve only seen it once but it is certainly an icon,” wrote Travis Belmont, of Belmont, N.C., in nominating the barn as one of Centre County’s 7 Wonders.
Privately owned and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the barn was built in 1910 by Calvin Neff, a farmer inspired by seeing round barns on a Midwestern train trip. He drew up a design for a round dairy barn and enlisted the help of a local carpenter, Aaron Thomas.
First up was a center pole, a 14-square-inch hewed piece of lumber, according to Sarah Grove, Neff’s daughter, who wrote about the barn in 1969.
Limestone quarried on the property formed the foundation, and about 60,000 feet of virgin white pine came from a mountain near Bear Meadows, Grove wrote.
Neff’s floor plans called for concentric circles on both stories, the ground floor for livestock and the second, or “mow,” floor for hay and grain storage. With space for horse-drawn wagons to load inside, it not only was the county’s first round barn but, at 6,000 square feet, practically its largest.
After the barn was finished, Thomas gave a special tour. He drove his wife and daughters through each floor, Grove wrote, to convince them his accounts of the construction over the summer hadn’t been purely imaginary.
•The two-level barn is 88 feet wide and 56 feet high.
•Long ago, the center pole was removed. Today, a silo 12 feet in diameter rises in the middle.
•Three concentric circles shape each level. Radiating rafters support the roofs and floors.
•Around the central silo on the mow level are 7-foot-tall grain bins with delivery chutes to the cattle and horse stalls below. Hay, grain and straw were stored in the outermost circle. Farm wagons traveled down the wide middle circle.
•Charlie Pecht, a retired Centre Hall electrician, spent 500 hours making a 32-inch-high, 1/ 34-scale wooden replica of the barn out of 1,118 tiny handmade shingles. His intricate model is displayed at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.
7 WONDERS SO FAR
The county’s first two wonders, announced so far:
•Central PA 4th Fest Find out the next wonder on Wednesday.