The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center is an open-air folklife museum and research center dedicated to preserving and celebrating Pennsylvania German folk culture, history, and language in a unique educational setting at Kutztown University.

Jack Riley Barn Star Collection

W.C. “Jack” Riley Barn Star Paintings

Wilbur Clifford (W.C.) “Jack” Riley was a history instructor and football coach at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He coached from 1935 until 1952, when he suffered a heart attack during a game.  On Sundays after football games, Riley would drive through the rural landscape of Montgomery, Berks, Lehigh, and Bucks counties with his wife, Helen Herzog Riley, and look for decorated barns. He sketched the barn stars he saw and then painted them as a release from the stress of coaching.

Although Riley did not record the locations of the barn stars that inspired his paintings, several of the paintings match barn stars that are well documented in the region. The following images represent selections from 50 paintings donated to the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center by Riley’s grandson, Jack Moyer.