Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Architecture and Landscape of the Pennsylvania Germans, 1720-1920

Architecture and Landscape of the Pennsylvania Germans, 1720-1920

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 272
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Architecture and Landscape of the Pennsylvania Germans, 1720-1920
    Book Description:

    The phrase "Pennsylvania German architecture" likely conjures images of either the "continental" three-room house with its huge hearth and five-plate stoves, or the huge Pennsylvania bank barn with its projecting overshoot. These and other trademarks of Pennsylvania German architecture have prompted great interest among a wide audience, from tourists and genealogists to architectural historians, antiquarians, and folklorists. Since the nineteenth century, scholars have engaged in field measurement and drawing, photographic documentation, and careful observation, resulting in a scholarly conversation about Pennsylvania German building traditions. What cultural patterns were being expressed in these buildings? How did shifting social, technological, and economic forces shape architectural changes? Since those early forays, our understanding has moved well beyond the three-room house and the forebay barn. In Architecture and Landscape of the Pennsylvania Germans, 1720-1920, eight essays by leading scholars and preservation professionals not only describe important architectural sites but also offer original interpretive insights that will help advance understanding of Pennsylvania German culture and history. Pennsylvania Germans' lives are traced through their houses, barns, outbuildings, commercial buildings, churches, and landscapes. The essays bring to bear years of field observation as well as engagement with current scholarly perspectives on issues such as the nature of "ethnicity," the social construction of landscape, and recent historiography about the Pennsylvania Germans. Dozens of original measured drawings, appearing here for the first time in print, document important works of Pennsylvania German architecture, including the iconic Bertolet barns in Berks County, the Martin Brandt farm complex in Cumberland County, a nineteenth-century Pennsylvania German housemill, and urban houses in Lancaster.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0495-7
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION Architecture and Landscape of the Pennsylvania Germans, 1720–1920
    (pp. 1-9)
    Sally McMurry and Nancy Van Dolsen

    The phrase “Pennsylvania German architecture” calls forth a certain mental image, likely conjuring up first the “Continental” three-room house, with its huge hearth, five-plate stoves, tiny windows, perhaps a vaulted cellar, exposed beams, and colorful decorative motifs. The huge Pennsylvania bank barn with its projecting overshoot also enters the picture. Construction techniques such as Fachwerk, the liegender Stuhl truss, and paled insulation have long been associated with antecedents from German-speaking regions of early modern Europe. These and other distinctive building qualities have prompted the interest of a wide audience, ranging from tourists and genealogists to architectural historians, antiquarians, and folklorists....

  5. CHAPTER ONE Landscapes
    (pp. 10-31)
    Gabrielle Lanier

    As Thomas Cooper passed through Carlisle and Lancaster County in 1794, he remarked on the link between the national origins of the region’s population and the lands they cultivated. “At Carlisle and Lancaster, and throughout the Pennsylvania part of the Shenandoah valley,” he wrote, “the Dutch settlers are numerous; their unremitting industry and attachment to place always makes land comparatively dear in their neighborhood.” In a single sentence, Cooper managed to echo the observations of many of his contemporaries, underscoring several perceptions about the “Dutch” or Pennsylvania Germans that were widespread in his time: public perceptions held that Pennsylvania Germans...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Rural Houses
    (pp. 32-65)
    Sally McMurry

    This essay considers rural Pennsylvania German houses from the colonial period up through the beginning of the twentieth century. It proceeds from a recognition that the very notion of a “Pennsylvania German house” has been subject to considerable scholarly scrutiny and debate, so an important task in understanding these buildings is to consider how they have been interpreted. Discussion of the actual houses themselves will take these debates into account, while also mentioning the relationship of these rural buildings to agricultural patterns. (Town houses are discussed in Chapter 5.) Throughout, the term German will be used to denote culture derived...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Domestic Outbuildings
    (pp. 66-93)
    Philip E. Pendleton

    As one traverses the Pennsylvania German region via its rural byways, one cannot help but notice the suites of picturesque domestic outbuildings, such as bakehouses, springhouses, privies and ancillary houses, that so frequently accompany the main dwelling on an old homestead. Although they have received some casual mention from writers who have looked at this landscape, to date we have learned surprisingly little that is definite about the history of these commonplace auxiliary buildings. This relative ignorance may stem, in part, from an obstacle presented by the buildings themselves. They tend to possess a certain “unhistorical” quality by the standards...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Barns and Agricultural Outbuildings
    (pp. 94-123)
    Sally McMurry and J. Ritchie Garrison

    In 1787, Abraham and Maria Bertolet built a new bank barn in Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Fifty years later, their son John added a large addition onto the east side, more than doubling the capacity of the original building. Both families were proud of these structures and had their names incised on them—Abraham and Maria over their barn’s runway, and John on a large stone on western pier of the new barn’s basement—preserving for the future a measure of their identity. Later owners added lean-to sheds and a cement silo, but what is most remarkable about the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Town House: From Borough to City, Lancaster’s Changing Streetscape
    (pp. 124-145)
    Bernard L. Herman, Thomas Ryan and David Schuyler

    Despite the many advances in the history of Pennsylvania German vernacular architecture over the past fifty years, we know remarkably little about the urban residences that line the streets and lanes of towns like Lancaster, Carlisle, Schaefferstown, and Strasburg. The chief exception to this lacuna remains the published work on the communitarian experiments associated with religious sects, most notably the Moravians. Thus, this essay provides an introduction to the Pennsylvania German town house, drawing primarily on the example of the Borough of Lancaster. Our discussion moves forward with two aims. First, we examine the formative and competing urban dwelling traditions;...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Commerce and Culture: Pennsylvania German Commercial Vernacular Architecture
    (pp. 146-180)
    Diane Wenger and J. Ritchie Garrison

    Pennsylvania Germans have long been celebrated for their productive farms and impressive barns and farmsteads, but not all Pennsylvania Germans were farmers. From their earliest days in America, many German-speaking immigrants were involved in commerce and craft production, and rather than working in barns and fields, these individuals labored in grain mills, iron furnaces and forges, stores, taverns, smithies, and craft shops.¹ German speakers, especially in the early years, conducted their businesses in buildings that revealed ethnically distinct features ordinarily associated with private structures. In some cases they intermingled domestic and commercial zones; in others they dwelled in separate but...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Religious Landscapes
    (pp. 181-208)
    Jerry Clouse

    Henry Glassie traced the evolution of vernacular architecture of the eastern United States from the remnants of the medieval to the increasing standardization of segmentable houses with symmetrical facades. Similarly, James Deetz observed the stylistic changes in New England tombstone art and related that to changes in the society that produced it. Likewise, the religious landscapes of Pennsylvania, with its numerous sects and denominations, have evolved over time, increasingly showing the effects of industrialization and secularization. For example, the almost diminutive eighteenth-century Trappe Lutheran Church, medieval in feeling, seems a world away from Christ Lutheran Church (Stouchsburg), remodeled in 1888,...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 209-228)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 229-238)
  14. List of Contributors
    (pp. 239-240)
  15. Index
    (pp. 241-250)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 251-251)