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HGAC Grants Help to Preserve 11 Adams County Barns in 2020

Every year, the Historic Preservation Society of Gettysburg Adams County (HGAC), through its Barn Preservation Project and Grant Program makes grants of money available to owners of historic barns within Adams County. This year, a record setting number of 11 barn owners were able to take advantage of this unique program that helps to extend the life of historic barns and to preserve the rural character of Adams County. The maximum grant amount of $2500 must be matched by the barn owner’s labor or a cash outlay of that amount for materials or contract labor. 

One of the goals of HGAC is to help fund as many barn preservation projects as possible and to help barn owners by providing technical advice and recommendations. All projects are reviewed using ten criteria contained in the grant guidelines including the visibility of the barn to the general public, the age of the barn, the need for immediate repairs and whether the work will help maintain the historic character of the barn. There are often a host of maintenance and preservation issues that barn owners are faced with, and HGAC’s grants encourage taking on one project at a time rather than throwing in the towel and demolishing the barn. The work being funded in 2020 includes roof replacement on three barns, roof coating, replacing gutters, replacing sills, post and piers, gable wall restoration, rebuilding a gable wall, replacing doors, repairing foundation masonry and replacing a barn ramp retaining wall. The barns being preserved this year are shown in the accompanying photos and can be found from Abbottstown to Fairfield and many places in between. Most of the barns can easily be seen from nearby paved roads. 

Curt Musselman, Executive Director of the HGAC Barn Preservation Project, notes that this is the largest number of grants to preserve barns on the HGAC Barn Register since grants were first provided by HGAC in 2013. Our success is thanks to the generosity of our Barn Preservation Project sponsors including the Rice Fruit Company, the Knouse Foods Corporation, the ACNB Bank, the South Mountain Partnership, Beech Springs Farm, Future Stake Inc., the Gettysburg Times, Destination Gettysburg, Sherwin Williams and all of the other individuals who made donations to the John and Mary Horner Fund for Barn Preservation.

One thing that all of our donors have in common is that they value the contribution that these iconic structures make to our historic and largely rural communities. Many of these solidly built barns continue to serve the agriculture industry even though they may be fulfilling a different role than they were originally intended to carry out. Historic barns no longer used in agriculture still help to preserve the agricultural settings and historic landscapes that are so important to the tourism industry and to preserving the rural character of Adams County. If you would like to be a part of preserving the historic barns in Adams County by helping to sponsor the HGAC Barn Preservation Project, please get in touch with Bob McIlhenny, the project’s Director of Development at (717) 420-6500.

If you own a barn and want to be considered for a barn preservation grant in 2021, applications are now being accepted for consideration until March 1, 2021. Grants are only awarded to historic barns that are within Adams County and that are listed on the HGAC Barn Register. At the present time, the Register includes over 350 barns, which is about 24 percent of the historic barns in the county. Barns are added to the Register by HGAC, at the request of the barn owners. Inclusion in the Register provides recognition of the barn and the opportunity to participate in the HGAC grant program, but inclusion does not legally bind the owner in any way whatsoever.

It is expected that the grant money to be disbursed by HGAC in 2021 will help with the stabilization and repair of at least six more historic barns. Once again this year, additional funds are available to HGAC to be specifically awarded to barns in the Adams County Fruit Belt. Only two of the eleven barns receiving grant awards in 2020 were from within that region of the county. 

There is no application fee to apply for the grant if the barn owner is an HGAC member. If an applicant is not an HGAC member for the year 2021, their application must include a check for $25 to become a member of HGAC for the year. Application guidelines and the application itself are available on-line at www.hgaconline.org.  First hold your cursor over the word “Programs” at the top of the page and then put your cursor over the words “Barn Preservation Project” so that the words “Barn Grants” appear. Click on the words “Barn Grants” to reveal the links for downloading both the grant guidelines and the grant application. If you have questions about the grant program after having examined the materials on the HGAC website, or if you would like to have your barn added to the HGAC Barn Register, please call Curt Musselman at 717-659-8827 or send an email to shinbone605@comcast.net.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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