CHESTER COUNTY — The state’s oldest barn can be found in Chester County. It has been there, according to research, since 1753. There is a gable stone that says 1724, but the owner believes that comes from a barn that previously occupied the site and was incorporated into the new barn.
The date stone in the brick farm house says 1724.
Unlike most barns that survive today in Pennsylvania, this one is a one-level barn or a ground barn. And unlike most barns in Pennsylvania, this one is of English ancestry rather than German. And the owners, Wynne and John Milner, keep Sicilian donkeys as pets.
A tornado heavily damaged one side wall and the roof and that required major repair. The owner managed to salvage some of the original rafters and shows them to visitors. The rebuilt wall faces the road and contains a single door. Its opposite side has two single doors while the wide sides of the barn have double doors, which are built to accommodate wagons. The inside has lofts on both sides which are accessible by portable ladders. Typically, in the German barns, ladders were built in as part of the internal structure.
Primary ventilation is provided on all sides by slits in the stone walls that are narrow on the outside and wider inside, reminiscent of a design found in military forts and castles.
According to Gregory D. Huber, a barn historian, remnants of older barns exist around the state, but not in the condition of this one. Huber determined the date of the current barn by testing one of the original rafters, using a process called dendro-dating. Think tree rings.