Multiple Level Access

Many Pennsylvania farm buildings have multi-level access; that is, they can be entered on more than one level, in vertical space. In banked structures, for example, a building is built into a bank, thus creating a multi-level structure with upper and lower level access points. The Pennsylvania Barn is almost always banked on the eaves side, while the Gable-entry Bank Barn is banked on the gable end. Usually, the bank is an existing topographical feature, but Robert Ensminger has noted examples in flat parts of the country where a bank was created artificially. Normally, a barn is said to be banked if an entire wall is supported by the earth.

Another way to provide multi-level access is with a ramp. Like a bank, a ramp is also earthen, but a ramp tends to be a narrow earthwork designed to approach an opening. A ramp can also lead either to a gable end or an eaves side.

Barn with more than one level of access
Barn with multi-level access via bank, Lebanon County, 1829.

Picture of a barn that offers multiple levels of access in the eaves side. Hellam Township, York County
Eaves side barn ramp, Hellam Township, York County.

A third way that multi-level access is achieved is by a bridge. With a bridge, earthworks are not used; instead, a wooden bridge provides upper-level access and spans a gap.

Photo of Scott's family barn, Lycoming County
Eaves side barn bridge, Lycoming County.
This splendid example shows a ramp leading to a covered bridge, giving upper level access to the barn’s eaves side.