Cherishing the Past, Embracing the Future

restored civil war era barn

Lee and Kelly Drosdak are in awe of the historical facts and delightful stories they continue to uncover in and around their restored barn, stories from long before Kelly’s childhood memories of growing up on the farm.

History of the Structure

The barn’s story began in 1857 when it was built by “E M” (as noted on the stone foundation) for Jacob Snyder of German descent. Originally from Lititz, Pennsylvania, Jacob bought the 100 acres of land from the French Huguenots. The barn, a base for the family’s agricultural operation, was used for milling grain. 

Fascinatingly, five years after the barn’s construction, it witnessed the heartbreaking intensity of the Civil War. On September 14, 1862, the Battle of South Mountain occurred. Fox's Gap — only 2 ½ miles from Lee and Kelly’s property — was one of the three gaps where Union and Confederate soldiers squared off that day. When the retreat occurred, every barn for miles around was used as a field hospital. Fresh air and proximity to clean water, both necessary for the operation of a field hospital, abounded. Bullets and other war relics have been found around the original farmhouse, only 100 yards from the barn. Were the etchings in the white cream marble of the barn's wall created by wounded soldiers passing time? Lee and Kelly will probably never know for sure, but the possibility is very high. 

The road running past the barn — though quiet today — was the main road of commerce between Boonsboro and Rohrersville, Maryland. The Civil War troops undoubtedly traveled its length. Records prove that the famous American abolitionist, John Brown, likely spent time in the area, and native American relics have been found on the land surrounding the barn. Lee and Kelly stand in awe at the rich history surrounding their barn. 

In 2018, Lee and Kelly met Elizabeth Snyder Lowe, a descendant of Jacob Snyder. Elizabeth and her son, John, were on their way to visit the Snyder family cemetery on the adjoining farm. They stopped to see Kelly and to share how pleased they were that the barn wasn’t falling victim to the hands of time. Amazingly, Elizabeth, a historian, had written The Roots and Branches of the Jacob Snyder Family Tree, which Kelly had already studied. Two and a half years later, their friendship with Elizabeth has proved invaluable as they continue to uncover interesting tidbits of history and share the same passion for the barn’s future.

Through a local relic auction, Lee and Kelly found a book filled with carte de visite photographs. Inside the front cover was a handwritten note referencing Matilda Snyder (1819-1894), probably a cousin to Jacob Snyder. The other last names in the book were common to the local area.

These historical discoveries all resulted from Stable Hollow Construction's restoration of the barn. Lee remarked, “That’s the marvel of all of this. We wonder what other connections we’ll continue making as we share the property with couples and their families. If it’s anything like the journey has been so far, it’s going to be pretty fantastic.” 

Kelly’s Memories

In the fall of 1972 when Kelly was nine years old, her parents, Donald and Evelyn Flory, purchased the farm. Kelly lived on the farm until she got married to Lee. Kelly says, "My memories are so fond as I think back. I had an idyllic childhood."

The barn was home to black angus cattle and their horses. Ducks lived on the pond, chickens filled the two-story chicken house beside the barn, and hours were spent with her beloved pig, Uncy. She loved the cattle, named them all, and kept a record of them. In the second year of Kelly’s 4-H Club experience, she won the Regional Broiler Championship ribbon. Living on the self-supporting farm, surrounded by friends and family, her life was picturesque. 

Choosing to Restore

Kelly inherited the barn in the spring of 2017 after her mother passed away. The Drosdaks knew that they wanted to preserve the family legacy for future generations. The barn was beginning to show its 161 years of age. The roof pitch wasn’t standard, and the stable’s porch roof was very flat. The gutters had been gone for over a decade. The wood was beginning to rot. Looking back, they believe they caught the deterioration at a perfect time. If they were going to emulate Kelly’s mother’s dream to keep the barn in the family, the time for a barn restoration was now.

Stable Hollow Construction was the fourth barn restoration company Lee and Kelly interviewed for the job. The Drosdaks knew quickly that Stable Hollow’s knowledge of old barns coupled with their shared vision for the future of the barn would make the Stable Hollow team an ideal fit. It was important to them to hire a team familiar with big timber restoration — a team who knew how to move and adjust beams. Stable Hollow Construction fit the bill. 

The Stable Hollow team visited Drosdak's farm a few times in 2017. Actual restoration began on August 23, 2018. Due to excessive rainfall (three feet of rain in four months), they put the project on hold in December 2018. Kelly commented on Stable Hollow’s professionalism the whole way through, in spite of working in the “worst of situations”. By March 2019, Stable Hollow was back on site and wrapping up their part of the restoration eight weeks later. 

The Drosdaks felt a connection because of Stable Hollow’s communication and their ability to listen to their vision and bring the plans to fruition. The couple reported,  “They knew how to match our dreams, all the while keeping everything safe and preserving it and implementing the new without it really being apparent. For example, they sandblasted the old oak and chestnut beams and made pegs for the new mortise and tenon beams. Stable Hollow’s masonry team removed white parging from a wall in the bottom level, revealing stonework that truly sparkled after being sandblasted." 

Every work day at 2:30 PM, one of the work team members would review the progress they had made that day with Kelly. To Kelly, the project didn’t feel micromanaged. It felt like they were connected and involved in making decisions with the team. The Drosdaks appreciated Stable Hollow’s communication and willingness to collaborate

Vision for the Future

The Drosdak’s plan to rent out the barn as an event venue. Weddings will be their specialty, but they are open to any kind of celebration — even corporate events. The outdoor fireplace creates the perfect backdrop for weddings, and the spacious venue lawn is perfect for games and tents.

The Drosdak's restoration journey has been appreciated by many including neighbors, friends, and visitors to the area as they watched the barn being restored. Had it not been for Stable Hollow Construction and the restoration, the opportunity to reconnect with many old friends may not have occurred.

Lee and Kelly commented, “When you start a project like this, you just have one thought. Just the reconstruction. All of a sudden, it morphs into something different. All the connectivity and blessings we never would have discovered. We’re just grateful. Grateful for the legacy that our mom has passed on to us that will get passed on again to our children. You look at all the stones in the wall. The stones in this barn’s walls are all connected. The structure and integrity of the barn is like the integrity of people. The stones have to work together to hold up all starts right here at the foundation and works its way up.” 

The Drosdaks believe that their barn restoration has saved a little piece of American history from vanishing off the landscape. They envision the barn being a gathering place for friends, family, and people they have yet to meet. As life learners, they hope the barn can continue to provide knowledge and education for their author and historian friends as well as future generations. 

Customer review

It's been such a blessing — this journey of loss. I lost half my family between January of 2016 and March of 2017. Then I inherited the barn. Now the renewal of everything my mom always wanted...not to have the barn fall into disrepair. I value the entire journey but especially the history and looking back and remembering.

Kelly Drosdak
fully restored historic barn