One of the most iconic historic locations in Lancaster County, PA, is the Star Barn, originally owned by Colonel John Motter. It was built in 1877 by John Z. Grove and Son as part of Motter’s working horse farm, located in Middletown. For decades, it was a memorable landmark for travelers along Route 283, and in 2000, it was officially registered as a historical site.
In 2014, David and Tierney Abel acquired the Star Barn and envisioned restoring the landmark to its original status, sensing it had been “dedicated to God, and He had more enduring purposes for this unique complex.” After a year of discussions and meetings, West Donegal Township granted the Abels zoning approval to relocate the Star Barn to Elizabethtown, PA, in 2016. The barn was able to maintain its registration on the National Register of Historic Places even with its relocation.
Breathing New Life into the Star Barn
In the years between 1877 and 2014, the Star Barn experienced the wear and tear of time, and elements of the barn and land began to deteriorate. Not only was the property no longer used as a working dairy farm (as it had been between 1925 and 1986), but a major highway had been built adjacent to the property, and encroaching residential developments began to limit the picturesque views of Pennsylvania farmland. It became clear that a new plan and considerable work was necessary in order to save this historic barn. That’s when Vintage Millwork & Restoration entered the story to help with this historical restoration.
We were hired to bring the exquisite details of this beautiful, historic barn back to life. Our team of skilled professionals created many custom millwork pieces for the Star Barn, matching the charm and beauty of its original designs with historical accuracy. We worked alongside B&D Builders, who was tasked with removing the original structure piece by piece before re-erecting and restoring it at its new Elizabethtown location.
Vintage Millwork & Restoration’s primary tasks were to craft the barn’s iconic star louvers — which are 17 feet from point to point — as well as the cupolas, doors, corbels, Gothic louvers, and Gothic windows with restoration glass. We restored the farm’s springhouse as well, creating a beautiful one-room cottage with a picturesque view of Lake Liberty. Each element of the restoration project needed to mimic the original, which meant careful planning and craftsmanship were required at each phase of the process.
Incredible historic locations like the Star Barn have endured many phases of American history and continue to be a beautiful reminder of the past. Its new location and restorative work give a glimpse of what its original owners first built as a Gothic Revival horse farm.
The Star Barn of Today
The restored Star Barn is now home to an event venue with a seating capacity of up to 600 guests, part of the larger Stone Gables Estate. We were proud to partner and collaborate on this historic project. It is a local treasure that will continue to be enjoyed for generations.
Help Your Historical Building Tell Its Story
If you’re starting a restoration project, contact us at Vintage Millwork & Restoration. We pride ourselves on breathing new life into timeworn structures with skilled craftsmanship and historical accuracy.