Restored barn reaps benefits for Pa. college

October 10, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A Pennsylvania German bank barn built in 1835 recently underwent extensive renovations, making it not only more attractive but more useful to the Wilson College community.

A $200,000 donation from Susan Breakefield Fulton, who graduated from Wilson in 1961, made possible the preservation of the historic barn, the centerpiece of the award-winning Fulton Farm.

The farm is used as an environmental laboratory for Wilson's Environmental Studies program, The Richard Alsina Fulton Center for Sustainable Living and the Robin Van En Center. Those programs are key in Wilson's goal of advancing the study and practice of environmental sustainability in the local community and beyond.


Fulton recently dedicated the barn in honor of her grandparents, Alexander and Katherine Owens.

Food produced at the farm is served in the college's dining hall and also is distributed to the community through the community-supported agriculture program.

Matt Steiman, who has lived on the farm as manager for five years, said that the renovations "really open up possibilities for us. It's an attractive site to work in for distributing vegetables to customers. It's nice and cool under the barn, and that helps us with sales. There's a large area for equipment maintenance and storage" on the lower level.

The upper level, which includes a new multipurpose space, will be used for college classes, children's programs, as a base for the college's renewable energy projects and for other community and campus events.

Renovations to the barn, completed this past spring by N and T Construction of Mercersburg, Pa., included the installation of a new roof and drainage system, a new parking lot and reconditioning of the limestone foundation. Because of the building's age, renovations were critical to preserving the historic structure.

"The barn roof was completely replaced, they dug up the foundation and fixed where it was falling in, and redid a lot of the stone work," Steiman said of the yearlong project. Poplar siding, painted white with red trim, replaced the old asbestos siding, and an attached shed was removed.

A wind generator was recently installed on top of the old concrete silo, along with solar panels on the sides of the barn.

"Those are part of a demonstration for a sustainable energy project," Steiman said. "We're using the electricity (it produces) on a small scale. It's mostly for teaching and demonstration purposes.

"We're thrilled to have the barn. It's a beautiful building, a nice place to work and it adds so much to our program. Having an old decrepit barn on the property is a liability; an attractive barn changes things around so much."

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