As a little girl, Evelyn Haines (nee Schufrieder), dreamed of marrying Prince Charming.
Instead of living in a turreted castle, though, she and her prince would live in the big barn in Roxborough where she and her father bought produce every week.
Evelyn didn't know why the barn held her spellbound. "There was just something about it," she says.
Time went by. The barn, which was built in 1750, became a horse stable, then for two decades sheltered Girl Scout campers. Evelyn grew up, married a prince named Evan Haines, and moved to a condo nearby.
In 1999, she spotted a sale sign on the barn, which had been converted into two residential units and a commercial office.
In the fairy tale, Snow White had seven dwarfs to help her fulfill her fantasy. In real life, Evelyn found a dozen Amish workers who would transform her barn into an enchanted home with beamed ceilings, fireplaces, decks, and grand staircase fit for a princess.
Before discussing the purchase of the barn with Evan, Evelyn drove down Ridge Pike to the site where Amish carpenters were building a storage barn for a hardware store. She asked an older worker, Ben Stoltzfus, if she could hire the crew. He told her they were too busy.
Evelyn, who was a sales rep for cosmetics companies for many years, used her powers of persuasion. Stoltzfus said he would speak to his son Ben Jr., who was in charge of the family construction business. Ben Jr. agreed to take on the new project.
Yet even with a potential work force, Evelyn wasn't sure she could convince her prince that buying and renovating a barn was his dream come true.
She lured him with two of the property's assets: almost an acre, where he could garden, and a cottage, where Evan, a talented artist, could paint.
While other middle-age couples downsized, Evan says, "We upsized."
Ben Stoltzfus Jr. and his crew spent a sweltering summer making the barn habitable. They tore down the wall between the two residential units, crafted interior window shutters from recycled barn wood, and installed stamped-tin backsplashes in the two small kitchens, which were updated with new appliances and cabinetry.
Having two kitchens is wonderful when entertaining, Evelyn says. She and Evan, who have no children, host extended family on holidays.
The crew punched holes in the barn to create doorways for two decks, and fashioned the displaced stones into support columns for the decks.
Workers arrived every day from Lancaster at 6 a.m. and worked until 7 p.m.
"No job was too big. Ben never said no," Evelyn says. She has a photo of two men in straw hats high up on ladders, repointing the stone. "It was 99 degrees," she adds.
Decorating the space, with its exposed stone walls and beamed ceilings, was a challenge, Evelyn says: "I didn't want the barn to look too much like a hunting lodge."
The living room, sitting room and sun porch are furnished with comfortable sofas and chairs. The dining room features a handsome cherry table and chairs and buffet. Evelyn's favorite pieces include an antique icebox and an ornate bombe chest.
The barn is a showcase for Evan's still lifes and landscapes. The large painting over the staircase, though, is by an unknown artist. It's a portrait of Navaho Chief Hecomhowas, Evan's mother's great-grandfather.
Evan has had more time to paint and garden since his retirement five years ago as director of food service for the Colonial School District in Montgomery County. He has planted 18 fig trees, in tribute to his father's Greek heritage, and tends lilac bushes and pear and peach trees.
The centerpiece of the garden is a century-old locust tree. Its upper branches are gabled together to prevent falling limbs from hitting the barn in a storm.
The couple have been married for 41 years and are now in their 70s. The barn's ground floor, which once housed the commercial office and is now used for storage, has a full bath - it could become their living quarters if steps became difficult, Evelyn says.