Patriotic Barns

June 24, 2021

Written by Art Petrosemolo

My blogging has been in on hold for the past several months as I move into new activities at Lancaster Farming newspaper including producing, filming and editing short videos to be posted with my print stories. The digital era has made huge inroads into traditional journalism and even old dogs, like this writer, editor and photographer can be taught new tricks.

Each year in late spring, I always get caught up in the summer patriotic holidays and search for print stories on military veterans along with other patriotic topics to bring to readers for Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day issues of the local newspapers.

Being retired (at least that’s what I call it) here at Garden Spot, I am not involved in day to day news stories with the local media and I can give some thought to stories that are both interesting to me and my readers. It keeps me busy and I love every minute of it.

As June rolled around, I turned my attention to photos that say Independence Day, to honor our country’s most important secular holiday that began to be celebrated in earnest after the War of 1812 with England. Last year I actually drove up to a Lebanon County dairy farm to photograph a number of red and white Holstein cows for a red, white and MOO photo. Yeah, I know, a little over the top but the farmers loved it.

I was looking for something a little more spectacular than red and white Holstein cows and began a search for old, historic 1800s barns that you see occasionally with American Flags painted on exterior walls or affixed to silos.

Surprisingly although you probably have or will see photos of flag barns around July 4th, here in the East, even in Pennsylvania, they are few and far between.

With some digging and help from friends I discovered four historic flag painted barns and ran across a (recently) flag painted cement silo not far from Garden Spot just west of Ephrata at the corner of Route 322 (Main Street) and Durlach Road. The flag was painted onto the silo by the employees of R&R construction as a present for the owner by commercial artist and painter Dean Williams.

But my four great finds were historic barns in Coopersburg, PA on a 1700s dairy farm and in the three Connecticut valley towns of Roxbury, Bridgewater and Durham. Four of the five barns date back to the early 1800s. One has been restored, one sits weathering on a rock ledge, the third in Durham, is on a weathering 20th century barn and was painted by the owner of the 1700s farm as he didn’t think people were patriotic enough back in the late 20th century. The fourth in Coopersburg, was painted by the daughter of the farm owner, herself a vet, right after the September 11th World Trade Center attack.

Each barn is unique in its own way and has a story as to how it was affixed, who did the painting, when and why and for what reason—pretty much universally as a show of patriotism.

I don’t decide how many barns will be featured in the June 30th Ephrata Review or the July 3rd issue of Lancaster Farming newspaper but I certainly hope they use more than one—maybe all four—as we celebrate this country’s 245th birthday.

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