MENDENHALL HOMEPLACE

 

We don’t know when the barn was built, but it may pre-date the house. Richard was sent to Pennsylvania as a youth to do an apprenticeship. There, he lived with his relatives who were barn builders, and this is perhaps where he learned how to build on the bank or slope of the hill. In this way, both floors of the barn can be reached from ground level. This type of barn is very typical of Pennsylvania, but is quite unusual for this part of the country.

The barn contains a number of buggies and wagons of the era, but our proudest possession  is a false bottomed wagon used during the days of the Underground Railroad.

To our knowledge there are only two of these wagons left in this country. This wagon is not original to the Homeplace, but was given to us to preserve its history. Runaways entered through the back and lay on the bottom boards. It was said that up to twelve small individuals could be accommodated; three or four would be more typical. The driver then closed front and back ends with the sliding wooden panels, covered the top with appropriate goods, and proceeded along its way. According to family stories, our wagon made several trips to Ohio.

The Bank Barn may pre-date the circa 1811 Mendenhall house and was likely constructed for James Mendenhall, Richard’s younger brother. This type of barn is typical of Pennsylvania but unusual for this region. In fact, this is the only known authentic Pennsylvania Style Bank Barn in the

South. It is built into the bank or slope of the hill, so that both levels can be accessed with relative ease. A cantilevered projecting bay at the rear of the upper level identifies this structure as a “Pennsylvania Style” bank barn.

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The Bank Barn contains a number of buggies and wagons of the era, as well as various period tools and agricultural equipment. However, our proudest possession is the The Stanley-Murrow False-Bottom Wagon, which was used during the days of the Underground Railroad to carry enslaved people to freedom. To our knowledge, this is one of only two such authenticated wagons that have been. Runaways entered through the front and lay on the bottom boards. The driver then closed the front with the sliding wooden panels, filled the upper bed with pottery packed in straw, and proceeded along the way. This wagon made several trips to Ohio and was used to help dozens of enslaved people reach freedom