Thompson-Neely Farmstead Barn Access Renovation

The Thompson-Neely Farmstead's barn with three sheep grazing outside.

Beginning in the spring of 2021, the Friends of Washington Crossing Park will renovate the barn at the Thompson-Neely Farmstead to allow park visitors to have better access to our animals for educational programs.

You can support this important work by donating today to the Friends of Washington Crossing Park.

About the Thompson-Neely Barn

Once the centerpiece of a working farm and milling complex, the Thompson-Neely House is surrounded by the numerous outbuildings needed for farm life in the 18th century. During the Revolutionary War, it served as a temporary regimental army hospital during George Washington’s winter campaign of 1776-77. Now, the farmstead is used to interpret 18th century daily life using the barn, the Thompson-Neely Grist Mill, the kitchen garden, and the many outbuildings.

The barn is of special interest to visitors because of its residents: heritage breed sheep. This renovation project is aimed at providing visitors with a safe and closer view of the sheep and adding a new interpretive experience focused on the role of livestock in the 18th century.

Proposed Renovations

The first goal of this project is to make the animals more accessible to visitors by creating an ADA-compliant pathway and interpretive indoor space. This will allow visitors to safely move about and observe the barn structure and the animals inside while remaining separated from the animals at all times by a physical barrier.

The second goal of the project is to increase the quality of the educational interpretation by offering new programs inside the barn. New interpretive topics would include:

  • The Wool Act
  • The Homespun Movement
  • Colonial farm life
  • The soldiers who camped in the barn in 1776
  • Wool processing and trade

Two Phases

The project will be divided into two phases: Phase One will include all of the necessary structural repairs, as well as the creation of the first half of the accessible pathway. Phase Two will open another room of the barn, allowing the public to access every section of the barn.

Once complete, the space will function as an outdoor classroom able to accommodate 12,000 additional visitors a year for tours, programs, and recreation. Recreational visitors will be able to access sections of the barn daily. Our guided tour of the Thompson-Neely House will be expanded to include highlights of 18th century farm life and the role the barn played in housing troops leading up to Washington’s daring crossing of the Delaware on Christmas night in 1776. During field trips and special programs, hands-on history lessons will be offered, such as wool carding and spinning, natural dyeing and weaving.

Work on Phase 2 of the project is expected to begin in 2022 and will open another room of the barn to public access. In doing so, a pathway will move through every section of the barn. This will not only increase access to the sheep even further but open up a larger space that is currently under-utilized. It will be a multi-purpose room that can be used to house exhibits or host educational programs. It will also allow visitors the opportunity to view different aspects of the barn’s construction up close.

Contribute Today

Please donate to this project to help the Friends of Washington Crossing Park renovate the barn at the Thompson-Neely Farmstead and offer additional educational opportunities.