And the Memories Live On

white leaf flourish

The Restoration of an Auburn PA Barn

Where the hawks fly overhead, and tomahawks and arrowheads lie silently underground in the fields nearby . . . partway up a rusty-red mountain road sits a bank barn.

Now it’s smartly dressed in red metal siding with hex signs adorning the overhang, but less than a year ago, the barn needed attention. The bank wall caved in slightly and dangerous holes gaped in the hay mow. The barn was crumbling at the seams.

The beautifully restored barn

But this barn held memories–stagecoaches rattling by on the pass through the Blue Mountains, a father teaching his son how to work with his hands–memories that shouldn’t be allowed to crumble.

“The memories over the years of coming down here as a kid and spending time with my father. . . that’s what I value most about the barn,” says Jason Baver, owner of the barn. “I wanted to get things fixed up and preserve a little bit of history.”

Jason acquired this Auburn, PA, Schuylkill County farm in 2020. His parents had acquired the property from his mother’s aunt and uncle, Mary and Paul Mengle. Documents trace the farm back to Samuel Mengle who owned the farm sometime in the 1800s.

This land, where turkeys, deer, and bears roam, is rich in history.

Just down from the barn, a lane juts off to the right to run parallel to the Little Schuylkill River. This lane once was part of a stagecoach route that connected (via a covered bridge) to what is now Route 61. According to folklore, Jason’s farm functioned as a stop on the stagecoach route.

The fields around the barn testify to a time even longer ago than stagecoaches. A distant relative of Jason’s, “Fritz” Baver, used to farm the fields near the barn. After plowing, he would walk across the freshly-overturned earth and find many Native American tomahawks and arrowheads.

Jason and his parents never lived on the farm. His father worked for the railroad and farmed the fields around the barn as a hobby. “My dad grew up on a farm in this area, he and his brother working the land with a team of horses. That’s how he got his love of farming. I guess it gets into your blood,” says Jason.

“My dad wasn’t into sports. Nor am I. But we all have ways we bond with our parents. Working around the farm was one of them,” Jason mused.

He smiled as he remembered. “Working at the farm was a love-hate thing for me. When you’re little, you don’t really want to do work, like husking the corn by hand on the ends of the fields. I hated doing it, but now I love that type of work.”

So when the farm became his, Jason knew he wanted to keep the barn. He searched online and discovered Stable Hollow Construction. Their photos impressed him. They were clearly capable of a broad range of work, including masonry. He liked that they were local, and his gut instinct told him that they would do good work because of their background.

Leroy from Stable Hollow weighing options for the barn restoration

Leroy from Stable Hollow at their on-site consultation. Jason said he knew he was in good hands as he listened to Dave (his right-hand man with experience in contracting) and Leroy discuss the project.

But more than that, they could help him with a house on another property, a house that dated back possibly before the 1850s. This house had originally belonged to Frank and Catherine Baver, his father’s grandparents.

The house’s quarter/half-inch coating of horsehair plaster was crumbling, especially around the windows. Others had looked at the house but didn’t know how to proceed. Stable Hollow, however, researched some options and presented a plan to remove the plaster.

They thought that underneath the plaster, the house likely resembled the stone barn across the road. They removed the plaster with demolition hammers. Sure enough! Beautiful stone beneath. They repointed the stone, and now the house looks like the legacy piece that it is.

Jason had begun the barn project with a certain budget in mind. As the project progressed, however, little things cropped up. It made sense to take care of those things right away. “I didn’t want to invest a lot of money, and then not have the barn look nice in the end,” Jason said.

Working with Stable Hollow was a delight: “the ease of doing business, very clear communication on the POS, and the willingness to modify and extend the project beyond what I initially intended.”

Removing hay to make way for renovation

But in the future, who knows? Storage rental, horse lodging. . . A smile crossed Jason’s face as the possibilities sparkled in his mind. A brewery with axe-throwing on the lower level, a goat farm to produce goat cheese. . . But that’s in the distance. Now he’s happy to keep working at it as he has the time and resources.

Most importantly, the barn is restored. A barn that’s really about the love between a father and a son and the moments of working together that strengthened their bond. Jason says, “I remember as a little boy my dad and I would be driving around the area and he would comment, ‘Look at that guy’s place. He’s letting it go to the dogs.’ As Dad grew older, he wasn’t able to get around and do things as much.” Tears came to Jason’s eyes as he spoke. “I wish my dad could see it now.”

The Baver barn restored to glory

You can’t put a price tag on memories. Standing on the ground floor of the barn with the beautiful stonework flanking him, Jason said, “I could have torn this barn down and put up two pole barns and still had money left over.” We’re grateful he didn’t.

Customer Testimonial

“I know from experience that contractors are busy, and sometimes you get the feeling it’s a chore for them to make changes. But for Stable Hollow, it never seemed to be a chore. It never seemed like too much. I appreciate the ease of doing business, very clear communication on the POS, and the willingness to modify and extend the project beyond what I initially intended.”

-Jason Baver