Preserving the Legacy of Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association’s Four Mills Barn

This summer, visitors may have noticed a flurry of activity around Four Mills Barn, the Wissahickon Valley watershed Association’s headquarters.  Thanks to both a generous donor and the in-kind donation and outstanding work by Nolan Painting, the one-of-a-kind Four Mills Barn received a much needed patch and paint job.

Photo: Four Mills Barn in 1899

Designed by prominent Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer in 1891, Four Mills Barn was part of a 93-acre estate originally owned by Charles Bergner of Bergner and Engle Brewing Company. Over the next 100 years, its’ storied history included five owners, many of whom were prominent Philadelphians.

Major floods throughout the years eventually left the structure in a state of disrepair. It wasn’t until extensive renovation by Natural Lands that the barn opened to the public in 1971. WVWA Neighbor Jamie Stewart who has witnessed the transformation said, “Four Mills Barn is worth keeping up as a piece of architecture by Horace Trumbauer, who designed the Philadelphia Public Library and other notable pieces. It’s important to maintain the historic character. It’s one of a kind, you won’t see anything else like it.”

In 1976, the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) moved into the Barn and converted the building into offices to be used as its headquarters and officially purchased the barn and surrounding 52-acres of land in 1995.



Since then, it has been up to WVWA to make sure that this historic gem is properly maintained and will withstand the tests of time. It had been almost 30 years since the last paint job, and the building was in sore need of sprucing up.


Nolan Painting has been a long-time sponsor of WVWA’s events and when they learned of this project offered to doing even more for WVWA. Their Nolan in the Neighborhood community outreach program is focused on improving the community, particularly in the areas of education, the environment, health and fitness, and local history. The revitalization of the Four Mills Barn aligns with Nolan’s focus on preserving the important gems of our region’s historic treasures.

Photos courtesy of  WVWA, Jamie Stewart