An Elegant Transformation

Painting of barn

While it’s called Colonial Village, it wasn’t built in Colonial times. In the late 1920s, a developer formed a community in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside just outside Philadelphia, constructing the buildings in colonial style.

This is where the story of the Prewitt barn begins. In the early 1930s, a green and white barn with board and batten siding was erected, and a few years later, a connecting carriage house. You may have heard the distant sound of neighing or been greeted by the musty smell of hay upon opening the barn door. A rider circling in the ring out back could have sent a billow of dust floating through the air. Tall grass grew in the field nearby. As time passed, and owners came and went, the barn fell silent. The riding ring disappeared, and in its place, a house materialized.

David and Joan Prewitt bought the property in 2001, along with the now dilapidated barn. They used the barn primarily for storage at first. As the years passed, the grass receded, dirt worked its way up the side of the barn, and the beams began to rot out. The paint was peeling; the doors hung on their hinges. The barn had become a forlorn image of the elegance it once was.

While attractive to a wandering child to explore, it was quickly becoming unsafe. If something wasn’t done soon, the barn would rot into the ground. The Prewitts had to make a choice. Either tear the barn down, or restore it.

New zoning laws made it impossible to build a new structure on the location, and to tear down the original structure would cost quite a little in itself. Restoring the barn seemed like the best choice.

The Prewitts searched for someone who was interested in preserving a piece of history and was knowledgeable about the old style of barns. Someone who cared about the outcome of the project and would keep the barn close to the original. A friend recommended MR Roofing. When the Prewitt’s contacted MR Roofing, they were told about MR Roofing’s partner company, Stable Hollow Construction, who specialized in restorations. Could they make something useful out of the rotting structure?

After assessing the barn, Stable Hollow got right to work. Since the barn was on such a small lot, they brought only the tools needed for the day. The first step was to stabilize the foundation. First, the carriage house had to be moved, and then the carpenters jacked up the barn to enable work to begin on the foundation. Stable Hollow did their best to preserve the history of the original building while keeping its exact same appearance. They knew this was important to the Prewitts. The last step was to put down a block foundation and new timber plates, then move the garage back to its original place.

In repairing the carriage house, new garage doors were constructed in the same shape with the same header effect as the old split swinging doors with posts in the middle. Stable Hollow removed the post for a large carriage arched header so it resembled the two carriage door look.

To restore the old copper bell style cupola to its former glory, Stable Hollow removed the original cupola and carefully made an exact replica using the same copper roof to retain the aged appearance. 

In the end, 90% of the framing remained original, but the barn has all new siding, duplicating the original board and batten style.

Now, a refreshing sparkle of pool water reflects against the barn, and if you listen closely, you may hear the tapping of a keyboard coming from inside. The main structure is a pool house, and Mr. Prewitt has set up his office on the first floor. Someday, the second floor may become a two-bedroom apartment, and the old carriage doors now open with the press of a button. The restoration has added value to the property.  What was once an old fallen-down barn has become a relaxing hideaway, surrounded by lush greenery and colorful flowers. Barn renovations and restorations can be a success story with careful planning and proper implementation.

“We feel that Stable Hollow Construction does an outstanding job at reconstructing barns. They are always on schedule and do excellent work. We have had numerous neighbors and friends remark at the excellent renovation of our barn. We would not hesitate to recommend Stable Hollow Construction to anyone who wants excellent work at a reasonable price.” - David Prewitt