Greg Huber from Eastern Barn Consultants and Past Perspectives joined the Practical Preservation podcast to discuss:

  • How barn styles varied from region to region 
  • What makes barn construction unique
  • The type of barn Danielle had never heard of

We also discussed the services Greg offers documenting barns and researching house histories, the barn tours and seminars, and the books he has written.  

Contact info:

Greg Huber, Architectural Historian

610-967-5808

[email protected]

Books:

The Historic Barns of Southeastern Pennsylvania: Architecture and Preservation Built 1750-1900

Bio:

Gregory Huber – of Past Perspectives and Eastern Barn Consultants

• Gregory D. Huber is an independent scholar, consultant and principal owner of both Past Perspectives and Eastern Barn Consultants, historic and cultural resources companies that are based in Macungie, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.
• His special focus is in House Histories and Barn Histories of historic homesteads in southeast Pennsylvania and beyond.
• A student of early vernacular architecture since 1971, Huber has specialized in pre-1850 barn and house architecture of Holland Dutch in New York State and northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania Swiss-German and certain English settled areas of the northeast.
• Huber’s latest book – out in August 2017 – The Historic Barns of Southeastern Pennsylvania – Architecture and Preservation – Built 1750 to 1900 has reached Number One Book on the Amazon Best Seller list in its specific category – Vernacular Architecture
• He is author of more than 270 articles on barn and house architecture and is co-author of two other books and editor of another book – Barns – A Close-up Look.
• He has lectured to more than 225 audiences and led dozens of barn and house tours in several states of the northeast.
• He is available for historic homestead consultation work on old houses and barns.

 

 

This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950.

 

Traditional/Vernacular Mode 1638 – 1950

Buildings constructed in the Traditional/Vernacular mode fall into this broad category due to the cultural origins of their design, rather than their period of construction.  While buildings within this tradition were built in great abundance in the early European settlement days of our state, the forms continued to be used and replicated with some frequency until roughly the turn of the twentieth century.  Some traditional forms such as meetinghouses and one room school houses continue to built today, especially within certain religious sects.

Traditional/Vernacular buildings derive their form and design from a commonly shared tradition of construction. Buildings that fit into this category are not architect or pattern book designs where appearance is dictated by contemporary stylistic trends. Rather, buildings of this type reflect the ethnic or regional heritage and cultural traditions of their builders.

Traditional/Vernacular buildings are often direct links to the building practices of the European medieval past, employing the basic construction techniques of that era. They were often strictly utilitarian structures, built from affordable and readily available materials to satisfy basic and immediate needs.  A Traditional/Vernacular form may also be chosen for cultural reasons, not because it is the only available design option, but out of respect for past tradition. Certainly, buildings of this type were intended for both short term and long term use. For many reasons, economic, cultural, and environmental, these basic vernacular buildings continued to be built far beyond the settlement period for Pennsylvania.

The Traditional/Vernacular category is a rather broad umbrella, covering a wide variety of building forms based on common cultural past designs. Floor plans and site orientation can be important elements in identifying vernacular design, since simple vernacular forms were often later enhanced by high style architectural details. The distinctive building types commonly seen in Pennsylvania include: log buildings, post-medieval English inspired buildings, Pennsylvania German traditional buildings, meetinghouses, schools  and agricultural outbuildings.

The architectural description “vernacular style” is often used to describe all non-architect designed buildings, or hybrids displaying bits and pieces of various styles. This term is used to describe workaday urban housing forms like row houses and duplexes and also utilitarian single family dwellings lacking any particular stylistic elements. It is also used to refer to barns, summer kitchens, springhouses, smokehouses, and other agricultural outbuildings. In truth, vernacular buildings include a wide array of structures across a long span of time. They are an important part of our state’s architecture heritage; they tell the story of most Pennsylvanians – the “common folk” of our state. For that reason these types of buildings are sometimes referred to as “folk architecture” as well.