The Barns at Wolf Trap™ History and FactsExperience an extraordinary musical environment.
Made up of 2 adjacent 18th-century barns, The Barns is a gift from Wolf Trap's founder, Catherine Filene Shouse, in 1981. Impressed by the acoustical quality of the wooden barn after attending a concert in one in Maine, she wanted to bring the same informal and acoustical setting to Wolf Trap.
She commissioned Richard W. Babcock of Hancock, Massachusetts, a master craftsman and barns historian, to identify 2 barns for relocation at Wolf Trap. He found the barns in upstate New York and restored and rebuilt them on their present site using only the 18th century "block and tackle" methods, gin poles, ropes, and manpower. Both barns are made of hand-hewn beams and panels, and the exterior walls have been reversed to show over 200 years of weathering.
The largest of the 2 barns is the German barn which serves as the theater, seating 284 on the threshing floor and another 98 in the hayloft. A unique feature of this barn, built around 1730, is the use of a "swing beam." Of German design, the swing beam enabled a team of horses to be turned around into their stalls without obstruction and provided additional support for an extra hayloft above.
The English barn, actually of Scottish design, was built about 1791 and is smaller in size than the German barn. It serves as a general reception area, preserving the tradition of the barn as a site of social gatherings and community functions.
Barns selection and raising: Richard Babcock, Babcock Barn Homes – Hancock, Massachusetts
Architect: Mary Otis Stevens, The Design Guild
Contractors: Scott/Long Construction, Washington, DC – G.T. Ward, Springfield, Virginia
The Barns at Wolf Trap is owned and operated by the Wolf Trap Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by Congress. A year-round facility with performances during the fall, winter, and spring, The Barns is also the home of the Wolf Trap Opera Company during the summer months.