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What’s a Bank Barn? Meet the Leap Year Barn in Pennsylvania

What’s a Bank Barn? Meet the Leap Year Barn in Pennsylvania


As one of the earliest colonies, Pennsylvania is a literal monument to American history. Sites such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Gettysburg are proof of the Keystone State’s significance in the country’s legacy. Those landmarks endured as the centuries passed. The Leap Year Barn—a bank barn in Doylestown, PA—can make the same claim.

The barn, which was converted into a home, is on the market for $789,000. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom home is a perfect blend of old Pennsylvanian architecture with modern-day amenities.

A bank barn is a dwelling built on the side of a hill, or an embankment, hence the name. The unique placement of the barn allowed 18th-century farmers to haul livestock and other farm assets into the basement without the need for an elevator system.

A view outside of the Leap Year Barn.
Exterior view of the Leap Year Barn

The style of housing became popular in the Northeast during the Colonial period. It particularly took off in Pennsylvania, where, according to the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office, the standard for barns included a ramp entrance to the second floor and an overhang, called a forebay. The Leap Year Barn was one of many such barns that became specific to the state.

A view poolside.
Backyard pool

The name of this particular barn refers to 1752, the year it was completed. That year, the British Empire switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar to better align their days with the sun.

These days, the Leap Year Barn features a bit more than the original structure. Gone are the days where homeowners had to keep their livestock as close to them as their bedrooms. A pool now occupies some of that real estate.

One of the former owners, a horticulturist, planted shrubs and specimen plants to complement the wooded property. Two bedrooms occupy what was once the basement for hay and livestock. But most of the original wood beams and stone walls remain untouched.

A view of the stone in the kitchen.

“The interior work that has been done is amazing,” says Evan Walton, one of the listing agents for the house. “It’s all granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. There’s central air in parts of the building. There’s a large walk-in shower. It’s full of luxury amenities at this point. It’s a high-end interior.”

The stone and wood have been put to modern use. The kitchen in particular has a wood-fired pizza oven and heat-resistant quartz countertops. The original wood beams are still in place, as is much of the original stone exterior. The stone even extends to the staircase, which leads to a parlor and bar. Much of the original structure remains exposed in the living room, much like it did in 1752.

another view of the exterior.
Front exterior

“This extraordinary example of architectural excellence is a testament to the centuries developed building practices of our nation’s earliest settlers,“ the listing states. “This Sui generis example of early colonial building prowess, the innate appeal of earth born building materials and the enlightened infusion of modern luxury make this history defining home a true masterpiece.”

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