We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Architecture and Landscape of the Pennsylvania Germans, 1720-1920

Edited by Sally McMurry and Nancy Van Dolsen

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (25.7 KB)
pp. vi-vii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (63.8 KB)
pp. vii-xiv

read more

INTRODUCTION: Architecture and Landscape of the Pennsylvania Germans, 1720–1920

pdf iconDownload PDF (60.4 KB)
pp. 1-9

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...

read more

CHAPTER ONE: Landscapes

pdf iconDownload PDF (845.0 KB)
pp. 10-31

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...

read more

CHAPTER TWO: Rural Houses

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.8 MB)
pp. 32-65

This essay considers rural Pennsylvania German houses from the colonial period up through the beginning of the twentieth century. It proceeds from are cognition 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. ...

read more

CHAPTER THREE: Domestic Outbuildings

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 66-93

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,...

read more

CHAPTER FOUR: Barns and Agricultural Outbuildings

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 94-123

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...

read more

CHAPTER FIVE: Town House: From Borough to City, Lancaster's Changing Streetscape

pdf iconDownload PDF (581.4 KB)
pp. 124-145

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,...

read more

CHAPTER SIX: Commerce and Culture: Pennsylvania German Commercial Vernacular Architecture

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.0 MB)
pp. 146-180

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...

read more

CHAPTER SEVEN: Religious Landscapes

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 181-207

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...


pdf iconDownload PDF (142.3 KB)
pp. 209-228

Selected Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (92.9 KB)
pp. 229-237

List of Contributors

pdf iconDownload PDF (45.2 KB)
pp. 239


pdf iconDownload PDF (753.2 KB)
pp. 241-250

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (21.5 KB)
pp. 251

This volume arose from the 2004 Vernacular Architecture Forum Annual Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We would like to thank the property owners for permitting fieldworkers to document their properties and for their efforts in preserving their houses, mills, churches, outbuildings, barns, and fields. We also acknowledge the History Department and the Max Kade Institute...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812204957
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812242782

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011