Category Archives: Barn Conference

Come Join us for the 14th Annual Ohio Barn Conference

The 14th Annual Ohio Barn Conference will be held in Athens County Friday, April 26th and Saturday, April 27th, 2013. The barn tour will visit selected farmsteads established on the unglaciated plateau of Ohio. Most of the barns in this region of the state are the work of Yankee settlers and their descendants from New England and the southerners migrating from Virginia. You will see the New England three-bay barns with a side entry and some southern barns with the gable end entry as you come into the Hocking River watershed.

The region was first settled by migrants from Massachusetts who came down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh and established Marietta. The same folks who created Ohio’s first organized settlement in Marietta headed up the Muskingum Valley and over into the valley of the great Hockhocking River and soon founded the first educational institution west of the Alleghenies, the American Western University, soon changed to Ohio University. They brought their cultural baggage with them and that included the three bay English barn. Some are ground barns and many are built into a bank with a basement for livestock.

The other migrants entering this region came up the Muskingum, The Hockhocking, the Scioto and the Little Miami rivers from Virginia and the Carolinas. Virginia was just across the Ohio River as West Virginia wasn’t established until the Civil War. Among the cultural artifacts these Virginians brought with them was the southern barn, typically a ground barn with the entry at the gable end. Some have a hayhood over the doorway.

The Pennsylvania bank barn is relatively unknown in this section of the Ohio landscape. If you see one, it’s an outlier. However, the 1850 Census indicates that a substantial number of migrants from Middle Atlantic states, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, were living in Athens, Meigs, and Washington counties at the time. Research continues to be done on settlement of Ohio such as that being done by Dr. Timothy Anderson of Ohio University. Settlers from Pennsylvania, Maryland and other Middle Atlantic states were the most abundant migrants in Athens, Washington, Meigs, Gallia and Lawrence counties. The apparent absence of the Pennsylvania German bank barn with a forebay in this region is somewhat curious. The barnbuilders predominant in the region may simply not have been from Pennsylvania.

The Barn Conference is scheduled to be held in the Auditorium of the old Athens Asylum. While many of these old institutions have been demolished in the past few decades around Ohio and the rest of the nation most of this old complex of buildings is still standing, albeit in disrepair. It is badly in need of attention but still standing. Nearby is one of the institution’s old agricultural buildings which has been converted into the Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center.

By: Tom O’Grady
Images by: Tom O’Grady


The main administration building of the old Athens State Hospital, this structure from 1868 was built on the Kirkbride plan for asylums which had separate wings for male and female patients. The central porting of this enormous structure now houses the Kennedy Museum of Southwest Native American Art.


Dairy Barn Cultural Arts Center in Athens. This facility is an adaptive reuse of one of the old barns of the Athens State Hospital. It is coming up on its 100th anniversary.


The Auditorium of the old Athens State Hospital, one of the many buildings of the old state hospital now owned by Ohio University. The 2013 Ohio Ban Conference will be held in this building.


The Annual Ohio Barn Conference XIII was Outstanding!

This year Friends of Ohio Barns was working in collaboration with the National Barn Alliance to bring you another entertaining and informative conference and barn tour! Summit County is home to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Cuyahoga Countryside Conservancy Program. This year we toured some of the barns in the conservancy as well as learning about the program from the Incorporator and Executive Director himself, Darwin Kelsey. This program was started back in 1999 as a way to rehabilitate old farms and put them back to work under the guidance of the Conservancy. It has been a very successful program on many levels and Mr. Kelsey had a lot to say on the subject. We also had a panel of farmers from the program, including Alan HalkoDaniel Greenfield and David Wingenfeld, to talk about their experiences and how they fit into the Conservancy Program.

We were excited to have the chance to collaborate with the National Barn Alliance and Charles Leik. Charles has been president of the NBA since 1997 and has helped effect many advancements through their organization to aid in fulfilling their mission statement which states “The NBA provides national leadership for the preservation of America’s historic barns and their rural heritage”. Charles and his group have been very busy recently in Buffalo where they were an active player in the National Trust’s Buffalo 2011 Conference with their Affinity Lunch and participation in an Inner City Buffalo School raising. Charles spoke on the subject of the future of America’s barns and was available to discuss the National Barn Alliance programs and their accomplishments.

carlson-cruck-frame-smOur Keynote Speaker was Scott Carlson, timber framer, woodworker, and craftsman extraordinaire. Although Scott would say, “I’m just a simple carpenter” we found that is not the case after seeing some of his work. If you are so inclined, check out his website at for more information. Scott graduated from the University of Montana as a forester, which has immensely helped him in the woods to find just the right trees to craft his cruck frames. We were thrilled to be able to have him take us on a journey from “Tree to Frame” at the conference.

History buffs thoroughly enjoyed David Snider from Somerset, Ohio. His topic for the conference was titled Agricultural Juggernaut: “The Jeffersonian Agrarian Vision meets the best damned farm ground on God’s footstool”. His bio as written by David: “David is from a long line of barn builders, lumbermen and Ohio pioneers. He is a graduate of Hocking College and Ohio University and works as a modern agricultural structure designer/builder. He is a past president and trustee of the Perry County Historical Society and an unreconstructed devotee of early Ohio History.” An excellent presentation.

Of course the conference would not be complete without the Barn Detectives, Rudy Christian and Larry Sulzer. They were available on Friday’s tour to point out unusual joinery as well as present their findings at the conference on Saturday. The annual member meeting was conducted during the lunch break and the silent auction was ongoing all day as well as other exhibits, demonstrations and vendor presentations.