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Preserving a piece of Pennsylvania

  • Carl and Louise Mengel promenade during the square dance held at the park pavilion.
    Carl and Louise Mengel promenade during the square dance held at the park pavilion.
Published August 10. 2012 05:01PM

People looked at a sleigh outside the barn at Ontelaunee Park, New Tripoli, and asked each other why the shafts were offset. Willard Snyder suggested the possibility that it gave the horse better traction and several suggested it would allow the driver a better view ahead.

The sleigh, a farm wagon, and huckster and mail wagons as well as other farm equipment to be stored in the new-old bank barn were being admired by the many people who turned out for the dedication of the barn. It had been donated to the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society by Rebecca Phillips and Sally Smith, daughters of the late Carl Snyder, who had accumulated a large collection of historical equipment.

It was moved from its location along Route 309 and joined the Zeisloff House and Fort Everett in the Pioneer Village of the park with the dedication held July 13.

Sally Smith said moving and repairing it was a labor of love. Willard Snyder, president of the Society when the project began and now co-president, spearheaded the project.

She said many people donated to the project and it is now in a truly great park. The Old Bank Building on Madison Street, the Society's museum, is also a historical building and is open at regular hours or by appointment.

Pastor Scott Shay of Jacob's Church said "to dedicate" is to set apart. "We gather here today to ask God's blessing on it. This is a day God made. We thank you for our Pennsylvania heritage. We dedicate this barn to your service. People will come here and kids will play in this beautiful place."

Co-president Neil Oswald said it took three years but this historic barn has gotten a new home. It looks pretty good. He said if he had to stand and read the list of people who helped they'd be there all night and miss the square dancing. Contractors helped. There were grants.

It was said that Willard Snyder is the reason this barn stands here today. It was truly a community effort, another jewel in Ontelaunee Park. Oswald said the storage space was needed but it is a symbol of people moving forward and a symbol of the past.

"Many of us have toiled in a bank barn with a forebay. We dedicate it to the hard work and community. It will be enjoyed for the future," he said.

Bill Mantz, with a history book under his arm, said his grandfather owned the barn before Carl Snyder bought it. It was built for James German. There was a house across the road. Uncle Francis lived there. There was a machine shed next to the barn. There was a buggy his grandfather took to Lancaster to have fixed and in the late 1970s it was sold and Snyder bought it. We are glad the barn was brought to a place close by, said Mantz.

Willard Snyder said the Society is not done. A stone fascia will be added around the concrete foundation. Artist Jon Bond will add a cow and a horse painting on the front and there will be hex signs.

Interestingly, there were 20,000 Mail Pouch barns painted by one artist. After doing the advertising picture, he painted the remainder of the barn without charge. The old boards with the sign will be placed inside but it will be painted on the exterior. The Mail Pouch signs were exempted from a government ban of tobacco ads because they were on historic structures.

Fifty to 75 people volunteered and donated time, material and machinery. We thank every one who participated, said Snyder.

People went around the back of the barn to the "bank" and looked at the equipment which had not been brought outside. According to the township permit, visitors are not allowed in the barn.

And at the nearby pavilion "The Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard" sounded as The Majestics played the first of three songs before the square dancing began. Smiles were wide as the floor filled and the first dance, to "My Little Girl, was walked through."

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