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Traditional Amish Barn Raising at Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park

December 14, 2004

A traditional Amish barn raising occurred today at the Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park.

For the last several months, Allegheny County’s public works and parks departments have worked with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to construct a historic replica of an 18th century barn on the Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park.

Landmarks project manager, Tom Keffer, worked with the architectural firm of Landmark Design Associates and general contractor Lee Bruder to contract with Amish Timber Framers ( of Doylestown, Ohio. The Amish construct native timber frames with mortice and tenon joints using wood pegs – the construction method of 200 years ago. No metal screws or fasteners are used on the timbers in the barn. The project took three days to complete the framing work.

In addition to the historic timber framing, the roof is covered with recycled material of simulated shakes, which will remain fairly maintenance free, for it’s 40-50 year life span.

“This importand addtion will serve the region for years to come and improve our ability to attract visitors and engage the public in the historic events that occurred on the Homestead,” said Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato.

According to the the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, the Oliver Miller Homestead, built in 1772, was a two-story log house with a shingle roof – a rare structure for that period.

It was at the Oliver Miller Homestead that General John Neville and U.S. Marshall David Lenox went on July 15th, 1794 to serve a warrant on William Miller, for failure to register his still. An arguement ensued and shots were fired by the farmers working in nearby fields.

The first shots of the Whiskey Rebellion had been fired. Two days later, 500 irate farmers, led by John Holcroft, stopped at Fort Couch where the Reverend John Clark of Bethel Church pleaded for peace. The farmers went ahead to burn down Neville’s Bower Hill Mansion.

In 1808 James Miller, added a stone section to the log house, and in 1830, the original log house was replaced with a large stone section, making it as it stands today. In 1934 it became a National Registered Landmark building.

The Oliver Miller Homestead Associates, a volunteer organization with 40 members locally was formed in 1973. Long time member Paula Bowman said: “The Associates are excited about this additon to the Homestead as the barn will afford us the opportunity to display historic artifacts and ephemera and to offer educational outreach to the community.”

Allegheny County worked with the Oliver Miller Homestead Associates to secure a $500,000 state grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development to build the barn.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633