Teach PA History
It's Just a Barn

Historic preservation and agriculture lost the battle for the Watts farmstead. His "improved" Pennsylvania Barn vanished in 1988, while it was in the final stages of being considered for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout Pennsylvania and the nation, agricultural land is being converted to other uses. Create a class debate, asking students whether or not society should take efforts to preserve the Pennsylvania Barn and agricultural land. Have students take a position and identify the economic, cultural, and political issues involved in the transfer of farmland to non-agricultural purposes. Frederick Watts had several farms that were run by tenant farmers. Ask students to research the Cumberland County "behind the marker" story and prepare a brief report on what life was like for tenant farmers and to explain the significance of April 1st to the tenant farm community. Student Handout 6: Distribution and Diffusion of the Pennsylvania Barn could be used to assign specific students to research in depth major regions within the sphere, focusing on the geography, settlement patterns, or the type of farming in those regions, and hypothesize why Pennsylvania Barns may be found there. Frederick Watts did much more than produce an experimental farm. He was president of the Cumberland Valley Railroad, attorney and judge, and an influential agricultural reformer. He was, according to Thomas I. Mairs, (a professor at the Pennsylvania State College, School of Agriculture in 1923), "a man who probably had more to do than anyone else in establishing the Farmers" High School for Pennsylvania." Agricultural practices continue to evolve and improve. Using their understanding of the distinct features of the Pennsylvania Barn and how it improved farming techniques, have students examine 20th and 21st century farm structures and theorize how the features of those structures might have evolved–to improve efficiency, ease workload, use new technology or materials, increase productivity, or other factors.

Field Trips

Landis Valley Museum
Students can visit this historical living history museum focusing on 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania German farm life. The museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts in historic buildings, provides craft and farming demonstrations, offers children's programs, school tours, and other educational resources

Landis Valley Museum
2451 Kissel Hill Road
Lancaster, PA. 17601
General: 717.569.0401
Education Department: (717) 569-0401 ext 254.

Roth Living Farm Museum
Take students on a tour of the Roth Living Farm Museum (a part of Delaware Valley College) to gain an appreciation of early American farm life, including demonstrations such as sheep shearing, milking, plowing, and planting; antique equipment displays; and hands-on activities such as cast-iron stove cooking, butter- and cheese-making, and other household activities of the period.

Roth Living Farm
Museum of Delaware Valley College
Route 202 and Hancock Road
North Wales, PA 19454
Phone: 215-699-3994

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