New barn at Woodville Plantation will provide historic experiences


A Collier non-profit organization built an 18th century barn on its National Historic Site.

Neville House Associates plans to use the structure, made with lumber from an 1810 Belgian barn found at the Steranko Farm in Latrobe, to provide more authentic experiences at the Woodville Plantation.

“It fits our time,” said Susan O’Toole, president of Neville House Associates. “There would obviously have been a barn on this property. It was a working farm for many years. We thought it would give us the opportunity to have programming, events, rentals, etc. which would generate income – which is important for any historic site.

Built in 1775, Woodville Plantation was the home of John and Presley Neville.

During its early years, the land was a popular resting place and sanctuary for weary travelers and dignitaries.

It was a key site of the Whiskey Rebellion, a 1794 uprising of farmers and distillers in western Pennsylvania to protest a federal whiskey tax.

Woodville is located 400 yards north of Interstate 79, Exit 55 (Kirwin Heights) on Route 50, near the intersection of Thoms Run Road.

The barn project had been in the making for several years and was pushed by former president Bob Eckle.

“This has concerned us for years because we wanted to try to become self-reliant,” O’Toole said. “The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation has helped us cover operating expenses for many years. We fundraise through tours, special presentations and events, but our events are very weather dependent as our indoor spaces are small.

A GoFundMe was launched to help fund the project. As of May 19, it shows that approximately $ 1,000 has been raised to reach a goal of $ 300,000.

However, O’Toole said contributions made not through the fundraising website brought total funding to over $ 170,000 this month.

The barn measures approximately 54 feet by 40 feet with a 14 foot ceiling. There is a small kitchen, a bathroom and a storage room.

“There is a process to do some of the finishing work,” said Rob Windhorst, historian and vice president of Neville. “They still need to seal and wire the back room. The actual space in the barn is ready to go and beautiful. We still need to do some landscaping.

“When we brought in the site and sort of built it on the hillside, we still have to bring back some of the topsoil and re-level the front of it, so that the bank comes out of the barn doors. down to the main house. “

O’Toole said there was enough wood left for the organization to build an interpretive hut for cooking demonstrations and lectures on life in the early 18th century.

Windhorst said the Woodville house was originally built without a kitchen. A log kitchen was built separately from the main building in the 1780s. It was then connected to the house.

The interpretation booth will be created with the original concept of the separate kitchen.

Collier officials worked with the organization to obtain the necessary permits for the project. Woodville is the oldest house open to visitors in western Pennsylvania.

“It’s kind of an oasis of history lodged here in the middle of the Collier Township business district,” Windhorst said. “When you look at the Whiskey rebellion like a very important event, that’s where it all started.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 people visit the site each year. Tours are offered every Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

More information is available at

Michael DiVittorio is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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