Background: The origins of the Sweitzer (a/k/a Switzer or Swisser) barn have been traced to the Pratigau region of Switzerland. The earliest such barns, which were first constructed in the Pennsylvania core area in the early eighteenth century, were built of logs.

Sweitzer Pennsylvania Barn. Newmeyer Barn. Pennsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Geographic Location: southeastern Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia; central and western Pennsylvania to Ohio.

Construction Characteristics: The Sweitzer barn is identifiable by an unsupported overhang on the downslope side of the barn and its asymmetrical roofline when viewed from the gable end (Figure 1.10). The asymmetry of the roofline is attributable to an unbroken slope over the forebay. The roof pitch is steep, 40 to 45 degrees, and the ridgeline is parallel to the hill slope. The forebay wall is low, only two-thirds the height of the rear wall. The lower level walls are usually stone, and the primary entry is through double wagon doors on the upslope side (Figure 1.11). The earliest Sweitzer barns generally have the steepest and the lowest forebay walls.

Dimnensions: The earliest log Sweitzer barns are small to medium in size, typically 62 by 30 feet including a six-foot forebay. The classic is longer than its predecessor; it may be 100 feet long or more. Its forebay is six to nine feet deep.

Bent configuration of the Moyer Sweitzer barn, near Blandon, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. From Ensminger 1992:61. Used by permission.