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Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life

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George Miller Sr. Farm
1850, with additions; 2007 shelter, Pfaffmann + Associates. 401 Meadowcroft Rd., 3 miles northwest of Avella
  • Covered bridge (Photograph by James Foreman, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
  • Church at right, barn at rear, cabin at left (Photograph by James Foreman, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
  • Main excavation area (Photograph by James Foreman, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
  • Rockshelter enclosure (Photograph by James Foreman, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Miller family has lived on this land since 1795. Over the years, the farm, noted for raising harness racehorses since the 1880s, was denuded of its foliage and strip-mined. After World War II, brothers Albert and Delvin Miller planted over 300,000 trees, and, in 1962, began to collect regional artifacts and buildings in danger of being demolished. More than twenty buildings have been moved to the 800-acre site as a means of preserving them and making them accessible to the public. Meadowcroft's structures include three log houses dating from 1795 to the 1850s, an 1834 one-room schoolhouse, an 1865 blacksmith shop, and an 1870s covered bridge. The Fairview South Methodist Episcopal Church (1869–1870), a large log church covered with clapboard siding, was moved here from outside of Jollytown in Greene County.

Three barns on the property could, if restored, interpret rural life in three settings: a 1790s farmstead, an 1860s sheep farm, and an 1890s village. The c. 1790 Patterson Barn, one of the oldest in western Pennsylvania, was moved to Meadowcroft in 1962 from a farm called “Oddity” five miles away. The double-crib log barn is supported by stone piers and has floor timbers of rounded logs. The two sections of the barn are separated by a threshing aisle. The second barn, the C. H. G. Beall barn (c. 1860), is a two-and-one-half-story timberframe ground barn with louvered windows and a round window in the gable end. It once served a 600-acre merino sheep farm on the Pennsylvania–West Virginia border. The third barn (c. 1890) is from the Hodgkin farm and was moved to the site from south of Claysville in Washington County. It is a Pennsylvania barn, a type of barn built against a hillside using the mortise-and-tenon or timber-frame method, allowing access to the upper level for hay storage on one side and to the ground floor on the other. Animals live on the ground level, where the entrance doors are sheltered by the porchlike overhang, or forebay.

In 1955, Albert Miller discovered the Meadowcroft Rockshelter, dating to 14,000 ВСЕ, on the property. The archaeological site, a massive rock overhang that sheltered Native American hunting parties, is now recognized as one of the earliest documented sites of human habitation and one of the longest continually used sites in eastern North America. In 2007, Pfaffmann + Associates met the challenge of anchoring a new enclosure around the National Historic Landmark archaeological site to protect it and to provide safe visitor access. The structure has three carefully located foundations that are laterally supported by the original rockshelter outcropping, which collapsed thousands of years ago into Cross Creek. The new enclosure's shed roof is composed of pairs of fifty-five-foot, glue-laminated pine beams. The slatted Douglas fir walls are suspended from the roof and lined with clear polycarbonate, allowing soft natural light into the excavation.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life", [Avella, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 285-286.

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