Chatham University moves dairy barn at Eden Hall campus; building will become the dairy barn café

Deborah Deasy
| Sunday, May 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Billed as a “moo-ving” event, Chatham University recently relocated the old dairy barn on its new Eden Hall campus in Richland.

“It's about 7 feet from where it was,” university spokesman Bill Campbell said. “We moved it to renovate and preserve the barn.”

Last week, Wolfe Home Movers of Manchester, Ind., inserted long steel beams through the 50-foot-by-16-foot barn and then jacked up the beams to lift the barn from its unstable former foundation.

Workers then rolled the structure along the beams — using chains attached to skid loader — to position and lower the barn onto a new concrete base.

“We just felt it was easier to move it onto a new foundation,” said Walter Fowler, vice president for finance and administration at Chatham University.

The entire process took about two days.

About 50 invited guests ate grilled-cheese sandwiches and “cow pie patty” cookies — by Parkhurst Dining Services — as crews finished moving the barn on May 15.

To fortify the structure for transport, workers covered the barn's white-painted pine exterior siding with beige plywood.

Inside the barn, an old nest built by barn swallows and a network of dried-out vines survived the gentle move.

Jay Harris of Sota Construction Services estimated the barn age's at 50- or 60-plus years.

“It was structurally sound. It was actually easy to move,” said Harris, project manager for the first phase of construction on Chatham's Eden Hall campus.

Chatham plans to incorporate the barn's aged interior walls and beams, plus a ladder once used to access the barn's hayloft, when workers transform the structure into a student café and library.

“We're not 100 percent sure of what it was used for in the past,” university administrator Fowler said.

The “dairy barn café” is among a number of first-phase projects schedule for completion by November as part of plans to turn the late Sebastian Mueller's former Eden Hall estate into the Chatham University School of Sustainability and the Environment.

The other projects include an in-ground amphitheater; constructed wetlands to help filter campus wastewater; and a field laboratory for the study, for example, of aquaculture.

“We're part of a movement for partnerships between universities and local governments to create sustainable cities for the future,” said Esther Barazzone, president of Chatham University.

“Spread the word. We want people to know what we're doing,” Barazzone told guests at the ceremonial barn “moo-ving” party.

Barazzone then “watered” the new foundation for Eden Hall's old dairy barn with a bottle of milk.

Five years ago, the Eden Hall Foundation donated the land for Chatham's new 388-acre campus in Richland.

Chatham officials plan to eventually build more than 30 buildings on the former farm of the late Sebastian Mueller, a German immigrant and philanthropic H.J. Heinz Co. executive.

Mueller previously offered and used the estate as a rural retreat for Pittsburgh working women.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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