The Star Barn – Pennsylvania’s Iconic Gothic Barn

John Motter Star Barn
*relocated to Ironstone Ranch
1 Hollinger Lane
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

formerly located along RT 283
in Lower Swatara Township

With the fast approach of The Barn Raising Festival kicking off on July 2nd and running through the 4th, 2017, I thought it would be a good time to unearth some images I took before the barn departed for “greener pastures”.

Built in the late 1870s and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000, the Star Barn has been picturesque fixture in the Susquehanna Valley. Since Route 283 was completed in 1970, motorists have been able to view a good portion of this fabulous example of American Gothic architecture when traveling east of Harrisburg. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any shots of that side of the building before it was dismantled. That portion of the highway has a very narrow berm and some road repair work being done and it just wasn’t safe to pull over. Though I got as close to the barn from the other side as I could without trespassing, I hesitated to enter the highway-facing side of the property to take pictures. In retrospect, it probably would have been fine but I erred on the side of caution. Silly me.

In the last several decades a number of citizen’s groups and organizations have made efforts plan restoration or relocation of the barn and outbuildings and then folded when their valiant efforts failed or became cumbersome. Now, the barn has a new home and a new life near Elizabethtown, Pa. Visit the Ironstone Ranch online for more details about their efforts and the upcoming barn raising event

I captured these photos quite awhile ago, when dismantling work was in the initial stages. It was a very grey and blustery day. In fact, those clouds caught up with me before I made my way home. It made for less than cheery photos; but those dark and foreboding clouds seemed somehow fitting while the barn awaited it’s move.


About ready to move out … and that cloud burst all over the place in about 4 minutes.

I wasn’t going to include this one because it’s so dark … but it reminds me of the cover of a Gothic novel