Museum has blast to make way for barn from the past

August 12, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - It began with a dynamite blast that shook the ground and threw tons of dirt and huge boulders flying into the air.

The explosion on Monday not only broke ground, it broke up a deep layer of limestone bedrock in the backyard of the Allison-Antrim Museum at 365 S. Ridge Ave. to make room for the foundation of a centuries-old post-and-beam barn, which, when reassembled on the site, will provide new storage and exhibit space for the museum.

The $500,000-plus project began two years ago when the museum paid $3,000 for an old barn on Loop Road south of Chambersburg, Pa., museum President Bonnie Shockey said.


Some beams in the 45-foot-by-75-foot barn originally held an 18th-century barn together, Shockey said. They were reused in the building of a new barn in the early to mid-19th century, the one the museum bought, she said.

It was disassembled and taken to Westminster, Md., where the beams are being refurbished.

Shockey said many of the stones in the barn's original limestone foundation were numbered so they can be put back in the same places when the barn is reassembled.

Most of the original foundation stones will be used in the rebuilding project. They are piled up on the museum grounds.

Robert Grout, a Fairfield, Pa., mason, photographed, numbered, cataloged and moved the stones to the museum grounds, Shockey said.

The barn will be reconstructed in phases.

The first phase will use the $200,000 that already has been raised. That money will pay for the two-story barn and moving its timbers to Maryland, and for the numbering and moving of the foundation stones to Greencastle. It also will cover the payment to Newville Construction Services Inc., the company that blasted the bedrock this week, and for the exterior walls and cedar-shingled roof.

There will be enough first-phase money left to build two climate-controlled storage rooms on the first floor to keep safe the artifacts and documents that tell Greencastle's history.

The 1860 brick farmhouse that houses the museum once had a barn on the property. The front of the house once faced south on Leitersburg Road. The barn was on the east side of the house.

It was razed in the early 1960s when the Greencastle-Antrim School District had South Ridge Avenue extended to Leitersburg Road to give access to its new high school, and later, middle school, which sits across South Ridge Avenue from the museum house.

Once the limestone foundation is built, Glenn James, the Westminster contractor hired to reassemble the barn's framework, will round up some fellow barn restorers for a modern barn raising, Shockey said.

When all phases are complete, it will "have the feel of an old Pennsylvania bank barn when visitors walk in, where possible walls will be Plexiglas so visitors can see the exposed-beam framework," Shockey said.

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