ACTI students learn the art of barn preservation

Fifteen building trades students from the Adams County Technical Institute (ACTI) spent the day on October 11 at Historic Gettysburg Adams County’s annual Learning Lab. The program is a key component of HGAC’s Investing in Youth Initiative, formed in 2019 to encourage a general appreciation among students for Adams County’s heritage and history.

The hands-on workshop was held at the Gettysburg Battlefield’s historic George Spangler Barn, where students could take inspiration from the massive timber-framed 1850s Pennsylvania bank barn. Skilled artisans instructed the students in timber framing, stone masonry, hand hewing, peg making and other skills used in preserving historic buildings. Students worked with these artisans during the daylong session to build a “bent,” a basic structural cross-section of a timber framed structure.

The workshop is supported by HGAC’s participating partners, the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Preservation Training Center of Frederick, MD.  Dave Snyder is the ACTI Building Trades instructor and David Maclay, HGAC Barn Preservation Specialist, oversees the instructional program

Jessica Bender from the National Preservation Training Center — the National Park Service’s premier historical preservation and restoration organization — addressed the students on job opportunities in the preservation field. Bender said there is a continued need for craftsmen skilled in various, historic-focused skills as the current generation of artisans close out their careers.

The workshop was also visited by Stephon Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania’s executive director for the Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence, who observed the students at work.

The historic, preserved, barn at the George Spangler Farm and Field Hospital off Blacksmith Shop Road in Gettysburg presents the perfect location to learn about traditional building techniques, according to Greg Kaufmann, the HGAC Board of Directors member supervising the Learning Lab program

“In this Learning Lab, these ACTI building trades students are being exposed in a very real manner to an alternate career path we champion. The students’ response to the labs has been overwhelmingly positive. Skilled craftsmen in historic preservation and restoration are in growing demand across the country,” said Kaufmann.

For more information on this and other HGAC programs, please go to

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Jonathan Ingram
Jonathan Ingram
4 months ago

Support HGAC’s mission by making an on-line donation to Historic Gettysburg Adams County, Code #56 at on November 9, 2023, or at your convenience at

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