Category Archives: Barn Conference

JBD Workshop, Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Cherryl and Toby Forte have graciously agreed to host an afternoon workshop at their farm outside of Oxford. The Forte’s will showcase their raised barn and farmhouse, discussing the details of renovations in the barn and house.  Their farm is located at 3884 Wallace Rd.  The event runs from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, rain or shine.  Pre-registration is required as we only have room for 40 folks.  Cost is $10 per person.  Register online by following the directions in the 2016 Registration Information post above.

For more information on the Sycamore Farms Country Inn please visit their website at .   Cherryl has rooms available the weekend of the conference so call them if you are looking for a relaxing place to stay!

The barn was built around 1853. The original frame was all sash sawn timber from a mill right on the property! It has been carefully repaired using more modern material to make the barn useful for the Forte’s farming endeavors, while keeping costs under control.

The beautiful dark purple painted barn is a 3-bay cantilevered barn with a stone foundation.

The farm house was built around 1830 and very handsome. It also took many hours of loving restoration to repurpose the home into a bed and breakfast! Opening this spring, the Forte’s will happily invite quests to enjoy the idyllic setting that is the Forte farm.  As an update, Cherryl was happy to announce that they have just received the Century Farm Classification for their farm!

Cherryl and Toby will provide us with before and after photos of the renovations, and discuss the challenges and rewards of fixing the barn and farmhouse. Harold Herran, the barn repair contractor, will also be on hand to answer questions about barn repairs.

Please join us for lively conversations, and tours of the barn and farmhouse. Plenty of parking is available, there will also be refreshments!  This is an indoor/outdoor event so please dress accordingly.

Ohio Barn Conference Update

Yes, we really are getting geared up for the Ohio Barn Conference this year in Butler County – the Board has been working hard at getting it all together and we know it will be a great conference!

We have an interesting line up for speakers this year’s conference:

Thankfully we chose Butler County because Steve Gordon, our Keynote speaker, resides there and was more than gracious to accept our invitation to speak at Saturday’s conference.  Steve is the current Museum Administrator for the William Holmes McGuffey Museum located in Oxford as well as the provost and Executive VP for Academic Affairs at Miami University.  He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in History from Miami University and has worked in the field of historic preservation throughout his career including the Miami Purchase Association for Historic Preservation, the Kentucky Heritage Council, the State Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society, where he oversaw the Ohio Historic Inventory, and the National Register of Historic Places programs.  Steve is very much involved with the Three Valley Conservation Trust as well as the MetroParks of Butler County.

A native of Ohio, Steve’s research interests include local and regional architecture, cultural landscapes, craft and building technology, especially vernacular buildings and barns and the study of regional material culture. His publications include How to Complete the Ohio Historic Inventory (1992), as well as articles on the U.S. Grant Birthplace, 19th century prefabricated housing, women architects, Cincinnati’s meat packing industry, maple sugar production in southwest Ohio, and Spring Grove Cemetery. Steve has written and co-authored over fifty nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.

Steve’s presentation will be about historic agriculture in Butler County and how it influenced farm layout and barn design.  Steve has been very helpful in organizing our barn tour this year by participating in the barnstorming event and leading the gang to several outstanding barns in the area.  He will have a very interesting presentation influenced by his love for historic places and architecture.

We are also very fortunate to have convinced Doug Reed to make the long trip from the other side of Pennsylvania!  Doug has extensive knowledge of log crib barns (and we have one on the tour!).  His hunt for the earliest known log crib barn has taken him to far-away places.  Please read Doug Reed’s bio to get the full picture of what this man is passionate about.  Doug has 44 years of experience as a vernacular architectural historian, craftsman and technical consultant.  When we asked him to describe his presentation he wrote “In today’s throwaway society, most people think of new as better than old.  Too many people have been misled into automatically thinking an old barn is far more expensive to maintain or rehab than to tear it down and build new.  For the past 44 years Doug Reed has been in the larger recycling world of maintaining, renovating and re-purposing older buildings.  Learn why it is far wiser to keep your old building and banish the thought of new construction when it is not necessary.  Using his experience with barns from all over the world, Doug will explain some of why maintaining your older buildings will benefit your local government, your local dump, your local bank account and your regional job market to name only a few”.  I am sure that he will be showing some of his fabulous finds in the world of log crib barns as well!

When asked for a bio Ed Creighton claimed “I walk upright, have two legs, breathe air and eat steak!”.  Hmmm. I liked it but thought I had better get a bio from his wife, Kathy, for the conference material.  She gave me a lot to work with, I was going to edit it but just now decided not to as it reads pretty well.  I hope she doesn’t mind.  In Kathy’s words:  I’ll let you wordsmith it, but he’s a native Cincinnatian, grew up in College Hill.  A life-long lover of history, Ed bought his first antique, a victrola, at the age of 9.  He also is a life-long lover of the Morgan horse, purchasing his first Morgan at the age of 14 (took a lot of lawn mowing to keep Brassy happy!).  Attended both University of Cincinnati and Miami University.  Served six years as the regional director of the American Morgan Horse Association, which his greatest achievement was the design and implementation of the Morgan Horse exhibit at the Kentucky Horse Park.  It was through AMHA that he met his wife, Kathy, and with their marriage in 2008, they had to find a place to keep the herd of Morgans (hmmm, were they my dowry as they came with me from Illinois?), as they wouldn’t fit in the backyard of his house in North College Hill.  They purchased their farm on Reily-Millville Road in February 2008, which has now become the home of not only the Morgan horses, but dogs, cats, sheep, alpaca, chickens, turkeys and a rabbit.  Ed is a docent with the Heritage Program at Cincinnati Museum Center, the Butler County Historical Society and Heritage Village.  He currently serves on the boards of the Friends of the Whitewater Shakers, Museums and Historic Sites of Greater Cincinnati and Friends of MetroParks of Butler County.  Until recently, he was the Executive Director at the Oxford Museum Association.  He has five children and four grandchildren.

Ed will be speaking about the farm that is one of the most intact, original farms in Butler County.   It was built by Revolutionary War General Andrew Lewis and was registered in Hamilton County in 1802 as Butler County hadn’t been formed at that point.  It is located along Indian Creek and is locally referred to as the Sample place.  There are, most likely, many stories to tell of this farmstead dating back to 1812.  Many of the original buildings are still there as well as some Indian mounds.

Ohio’s Canals?  If you don’t know anything about them then you will after Tom O’Grady educates us all on the history of the who, what, where, how and why the canals came to be in Ohio.  If you don’t know anything about Tom you should know, at least, that he is a barn enthusiast as well as the Director of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum and he also serves on the board of Ohio’s Hill County Heritage Area.  Read Tom’s recently updated bio here.

Post Bottom Repairs?  This year Ric Beck and Mike Wengler will do a presentation  called “Post Bottom Repairs – Simple to Historic Preservation”’ which will be a combination of a power point presentation as well as showing some actual examples and Ric and Mike will even dazzle us by laying out an historic repair, drilling and cutting the piece.  Chips will be flying!  Ric has served as president of Friends of Ohio Barns for almost 10 years and has many hours under his belt, so to speak, timber framing.  Mike, our local hero for this conference,  was born in Cincinnati and raised on a farm near Oxford.  He wrote me that he grew up playing in an 1864 barn.  He spent time in the Bahamas and Florida sailing and diving.  His parents still live on that Nichols Rd farm where he grew up with five siblings.  Mike started a lawn care business in 1991 then in 2004 he branched out doing excavation work.  From OLC Excavating & Construction Mike started his third business, Timber Frame Reclaim.  Mike says “I seek to preserve, reuse, and reconstruct antiques timbers, namely barns”.  He claims that he has saved nearly 100 barns in Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia.  This spring Mike will be deconstructing and moving an 1845 40’x52′ swing beam barn from Liberty, Indiana to Mt Airy, Cincinnati for the purpose of a dairy show barn.  Mike keeps busy with his wood shop at the farm as well as his lumber storage yard in Seven Mile, Ohio.  Find out more about Mike on Facebook at Timber Frame Reclaim in Oxford.

Barn Detectives?  Yes!  Rudy Christian and Dan Troth will both be there for sure.  Friday they will help the Barn Tour participants uncover unique timber frame building techniques in the barns we tour and Saturday they will reveal their findings to the conference goers.  What separates the Ohio Barn Conference Barn Tour from others is that we have Rudy and Dan plus a host of other knowledgeable members available and willing to share their insights about the barns, the people who built them and the architectural history of our historic barns.  “Get in on this!”

As part of the Ohio Barn Conference we will also hold our Annual Member Meeting, the Silent Auction and just good old fashioned visiting with friends and barn lovers alike.

The Saturday conference is open to the public and pre-registration is greatly appreciated.  Please check out the 2016 Registration Information post above for more information.  Also, scroll down to find the schedule in the Butler County article.

Friday Barn Tour – April 22nd, 2016

Butler County has loads to offer: barns, canals, Indian mounds and beautiful scenery.  As part of the Ohio Barn Conference we have six stops on the tour this year all starting at Hueston Woods Lodge where Friday registration will start at 8am.  Pre-registration is required for this tour and those signing up for the Full Conference will have first choice!  Please see the 2016 Registration Information post above for registration information.

Stop #1 is an 1825 all hand hewn 26×48 ground barn (owned by Tom Stander) using timber from the property and sports t-auger mortices and was noted as a “simple but beautiful barn”.  The barn at stop #2 belongs to Ed and Kathy Creighton and is part of the original Andrew Lewis Farm.  Ed will be speaking at the conference on Saturday about the history of the farm.  This farm is one of the only all original and intact farms in Butler County.  There are barns, an 1800 corn crib and even Indian mounds and Morgan horses on this property!  We are fortunate to be able to have our lunch stop (# 3) at the Barn-n-Bunk Farm Market in Trenton.  There will be enough time to explore this venue complete with barns, tools, antique tractors and shops plus ice cream!  Dave Gaker has restored the Theobald’s two story 60×100 frame that was turned into an event center.  Stop # 4 is an 1815 Sweitzer barn, called the Good-Hunter Barn, on an old farmstead that belongs to Jack and Susan Martin.  There is also a double crib log corn crib as well as a castel looking concrete silo with a cistern on the top.  Stop # 5 is the Richardson Barn owned by Katherine and Harold Richardson.  it is a 38×60 ground barn with massive 12×12 posts with a swing type beam 12×12 half lapped with another 12×12 beam in the drive bay and it even has a swing beam in the basement! And the final stop (# 6) will be the barn that is part of the Oxford Museum Association located on Brown Rd in Oxford.

Parking is available all day in the Hueston Woods parking lot.  Buses leave promptly at 9 am and we plan on returning to the Lodge by 5pm.  This event is rain or shine so please dress appropriately.

Any question please email us at [email protected]

For more information on the Conference see below –

Ohio Barn Conference XVII in Butler County

The Annual Ohio Barn Conference and Barn Tour will soon be open for registration.

In the meantime let me give you a couple of tidbits to keep you interested and coming back for more information.

The Saturday portion of the Conference will be held at the Hueston Woods Lodge and Conference Center in College Corner.   You can check them out at for more information about the lodge and accommodations.

We have a block of rooms under “Friends of Ohio Barns” at a reduced rate at the Hueston Woods Lodge.  Cutoff is March 31st, 2016.  Call them directly to make your room reservation at 513-664-3550.

We have a star line up of speakers including Steve Gordon, from Oxford, and Doug Reed from Mercersburg, Pennsylvania as well as Bob Creighton, a local barn owner, and our usual gang: the Barn Detectives, Tom O’Grady and Ric Beck with local hero Mike Wengler.  2016 Conference Schedule.

There is a JBD Workshop on Thursday, April 21st in the afternoon at Cheryl & Toby Forte’s Sycamore Farms Country Inn.  We have a limit of 40 people for the event and the cost will be $10pp.  Registration is separate from the Conference and is required.

We have six stops on the tour including the Barn-n-Bunk Farm Market which will be our lunch stop.  The other five stops will certainly impress barn lovers.

The conference newsletter will be mailed in mid February.  As soon as we are ready an email will be sent to members for online registration.

So check back – there will be more information.


Hancock County – here we come!

For those of you who plan on attending the annual Ohio Barn Conference and Barn Tour XVI you should know that this area is filled with history and wonderful architecture. Plan on spending a day before and/or a day after to take in all the wonderful sights and sounds of Findlay and the surrounding area. The downtown area is filled with good eateries, coffee houses, antique stores, as well as arts and culture in the form of shops and museums. And If the weather is nice (and we hope so for the barn tour) there are several parks and nature preserves in the local area.

Please come join us for another tour of great barns on Friday, April 24th and listen to many great talks at the Brugeman Lodge on Saturday, April 25th. We will have the Member Annual Meeting during the lunch break and will be running the Silent Auction all day. Lunch is included both days.

As our editor, Tom O’Gady, pointed out in the last newsletter (and if you haven’t read it please go to the newsletter section on this website and take a look), Hancock County has a rich history beginning with early settlers seeking the rich soils that were produced by the sediments of the local swamps to playing an important role in the Underground Railroad. The Hancock County Courthouse, built between 1886 and 1888, is a fine example of the Victorian Second Empire architecture and is spectacular. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. As Tom commented in one of his articles, the oil boom of the 1880’s culminated in dozens of Victorian style homes being built by townsmen with great wealth. Many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well and can be found on South Main St. and West Sandusky St. The Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books is for those of you wanting to relive your childhood through the artwork of your favorite kiddie books.

And then there is the beautiful Hancock Historical Museum located at 422 West Sandusky St. in downtown Findlay. Check out their website at for more information on what they have to offer and hours when they are open. Sarah Sisser, the Director of the Hancock Historical Museum, has been instrumental in getting our Ohio Barn Conference organized this year and we are extremely grateful to her and the museum. The museum is located in the Hull-Flater House (an Italian Villa style home) which was built in 1881 by Jasper Hull who was the co-founder of the Findlay Artificial Gas and Light Company. A barn was built behind the house in 1985 to hold the exhibits on transportation and agriculture. Finally, the Crawford Log House was moved to its location behind the barn from Biglick Township where it originally stood. The museum has loads to offer and should be a part of your visit to Hancock County.

Well, what’s going on with the tour you ask? Well, we have, as usual, several interesting barns to visit. Below are just some quick notes of some of the barns on the tour.

One barn is the Bright-Hoy barn that was built in 1854 by Levi Bright. Lorena and Alan Hoy run the Lamb’s Ear Bed and Breakfast in the main house. The barn sports unusual double bracing between the mow tie and tie beam. There are also hand forged tie rods. There are several examples of fine craftsmanship in this barn including table half lap joints and the decorative oval and louvered windows.
Levi Bright Barn

Mark Metzger has graciously offered his barn, the Ropp-Metzger Barn, as the location for our lunch stop on Friday, April 24th. This immaculate raised three bay ground barn is located on land that was settled by Mark’s great-grandfather, John Adam Metzger, in 1833. This certified Ohio Century Farm has been in the Metzger family for over a hundred years. The bank barn pictured to the left was built in 1898 by John’s youngest daughter, Lucinda, and her husband, Joseph Ropp. It once housed a milking operation and has also been used to store hay. Mark’s father, Merritt, purchased the property from Lucinda’s estate around 1939. Mark moved back to the family farm after being discharged from the Navy in 1956. Take note of the “fish belly’ ties used for extra wind bracing and the multiple scarf joints that are found throughout the barn. The barn also sports a two sill, vitrified tile foundation. Mark and his wife, Drena, have meticulously preserved tools that were used on the farm and hope to continue sharing the family history. Enjoy your lunch while taking in a bit of Hancock County history through a barn’s view.
Ropp-Metzger Barn

The Fish Barn House. This house was constructed by Jeff & Jenny Fish using random hewn pieces.
The Fish Barn House

The Basinger Barn, below, holds many surprises, some of which are firsts for members of Friends of Ohio Barns to see. The gable ends of the barn are graced with eleven louvers and five owl holes. Plus there is an owl hole over each driveway door. We have never seen owl holes on the broad side of the barn before. There are several surprises on the inside of the barn as well. The Basinger stop has an added bonus. The original brick farm house is timber frame inside and most of it is stripped bare so we can see how some of the framing in the house is different from the barn.
The Basinger Barn

And what about the Conference on Saturday? Take a look at the schedule. If you had read this article earlier you would have read that our past vice president, Tim Mason, was going to speak about barn owls. Sadly, something has come up that Tim will not be able to present but he has passed the torch on to his colleague, Al Parker, from Zane State College and Blue Rock Conservation Consulting. The following is taken from the biography that Al sent our way. “As an employee of the IDNR, I climbed through thousands of barns in Indiana. I have been awed by the structure and functionality of the large barns of yesteryear. The worn handholds on ladders, the scribbled cyphering found on a board 30 feet in the air, the hew marks on massive timbers, the unique inventions for closing and latching doors – these all speak of people long gone and their investments on earth and what they knew as important. I am also intrigued by the life that has adopted barns as their home. Some species are found in a few other places and have nearly completely adapted to life alongside humans. This gives me hope for a future where wildlife is a part of our lives and we theirs.” Al studied wildlife at Purdue University, was a Co-op Education Student for Indiana DNR and is currently working toward a MS at Green Mountain College. He has quite the background in outdoor activities including falconry, fishing and canoe camping as well as being an Eagle Nest Climber, Barn Owl Bander and Rattle Snake Tracker! Oh My! I have a good feeling that Al will have stories to tell that will amaze everyone in the audience.

Our Keynote speaker this year is David Fey. David is currently the Director of the Fairfield County Historical Parks District,, overseeing eighteen of the county’s historic parks. He has a BS in Biology from The Ohio State University, and an MED from the University of Virginia. He is a Fellow of the National Science Foundation and a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For twenty-five years David taught physical science and biology at Bexley City Schools and was awarded the Bexley High School Alumni Association Honorary Alumni Award in 2009 . Mr. Fey’s talk titled “Minding your P’s” will explore preservation and the approaches that seem to be consistent from trade to trade.

OSU County Extension agents have their fair share of work to do, even retired ones such as Gary Wilson. Gary has offered to speak to the History of Farming and the Relationship with the Co-operative Extension Service. Gary Wilson is the seventh generation to live and work on his family farm near Jenera with the eighth generation of daughter Jennifer and son Mitch just beginning. His present farming activities include commercial hay, sheep production, grain farming and finishing feeder cattle. On August 31, 2011, Gary retired from being a county Agricultural Extension Agent for 31.5 years plus teaching vocational agriculture for 2 years. He has been active with the Hancock Historical Museum over the last 2 years helping to create and conduct the first two Historic Barn Tours for Hancock Co which has averaged 500-600 people over the last 2 years.

Gary has been president and a founding member of Ohio Forages and Grassland Council and is presently President on the National Board of Directors for the American Forage and Grassland Council. Gary is also presently President of the Ohio Sheep and Wool Board, President of Hancock Co. Farm Bureau, President of Hancock Co. 4-H Council and President of the National Forage Foundation. He is also active on another dozen Boards and Committees. When he isn’t farming or going to a meeting he is also a Sales Rep for Pioneer Seeds. He has been married to his wife Mary for over 33 years and with their 3 children now have 7 degrees from THE Ohio State University.

Our local guests will be David and Linda Spahr who will speak about their farm which is a multigenerational Century Farm located in the Findlay area that was incorporated back in 1961. They will discuss how times have changed and how they have adapted in order to maintain their farm.

And we will wrap up the conference with Kelly and Tammy Rundle with their update on “The Barn Raisers”, the documentary we have been assisting with making on many levels. Hopefully they will have a sneak peak of the film for us to view!

Another year of fun and exploration of a different county – please come join us!