Packing House

In places where specialized fruit culture developed, such as the Lake Erie shore and Adams County fruit belts, farm packing houses (sometimes called packing barns) can be found. Most examples found in fieldwork and in period illustrations were sited near the roadway. Large doorways with either sliding or hinged doors admitted wagons piled high with containers, full or empty. Most packing barns had rows of first-floor window to provide the light necessary for the work of sorting and packing. Special tables allowed workers a space in which to sort fruit in manageable quantities. At other tables, packers carefully placed the fruit in labeled containers for market, usually with uniform weights or volumes. These containers were then loaded onto a fruit wagon (later a truck bed) for transport.

Some farm packing barns had loft space to store empty containers in the off-season. But in Erie County especially, some gave over a second story to worker housing.

Packing Barn, Erie County
Packing barn, Erie County, mid 20th century.
The lower level was used for packing and the upper level for living quarters.

Packing house, Adams County
Packing house, Adams County, c. 1930.
In this example, the upper level was used for storing bushel baskets for apple picking.