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Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

April 6, 2005

Peter Maruca ’87

Peter Maruca ’87, right, Hollie Powers Holt ’78, and her husband, Jamie, in front of a transplanted 150-year-old Pennsylvania barn. (Courtesy Peter Maruca ’87)

Barn again
Peter Maruca ’87 raises barn for Hollie Powers Holt ’78

Peter J. Maruca ’87 can trace his infatuation with construction back to 1969, when he watched his father and grandfather build an addition to the family’s home in Princeton. As a teenager, he was a carpenter’s helper during summers. Although he dabbled in several careers after majoring in art history at Princeton — banking, marketing, and musical performance – he always gravitated back to carpentry.

Now the owner of Orion General Contractors in Haverford, Pa., Maruca has made a name for himself remodeling and constructing high-end homes in the Philadelphia suburbs, specializing in historical renovations. One of his most interesting and challenging projects of late was the disassembling and moving of a historic, 150-year-old bank barn — built into a hillside to allow for access at two levels — made of white oak timbers from a field in rural Pennsylvania to Hollie Powers Holt ’78’s backyard in Wayne, Pa., last fall.

Maruca met Holt, an antiques dealer, eight years ago while both were serving on the board of the Princeton Club of Philadelphia. Transplanting the barn isn’t the first project Maruca has worked on for Holt and her husband, Jamie. Three years ago Maruca carried out a major renovation and addition to the Holts’ 1782 house.

When the couple decided to replace the garage on their property with a more historically appropriate structure, it seemed only logical that they would search for a hand-hewn barn, in which the major timbers were fashioned by hand, to complement Jamie’s growing collection of hand-hewing tools.

It took the Holts four years to locate an original structure that was in good enough condition to relocate. Maruca oversaw the dismantling of the barn and its stone foundation; the construction of the new stone foundation, reusing the old stone; the raising of the barn; and the installation of the trim and electrical systems. The first floor of the barn serves as a garage. The upstairs is a woodworking shop for Jamie. Said Maruca, “While old barns are frequently salvaged for their timbers and stones, it is all too rare that they are actually transplanted and recycled.”

By Kathryn Levy Feldman ’78

Kathryn Levy Feldman ’78 is a freelance writer in Bryn Mawr, Pa.