Conference Time is Approaching Fast!

“Appalachia is Appalachia. We have to preserve what we have.” Well spoken by Athens County Historical Society volunteer and Collections Manager Donald E. Newell. Our board member, Tom O’Grady, is the current president of the ACHS and has a lot on his plate including the organization of this year’s conference. With preservation and restoration in mind for a conference theme it just so happens that we are having the Saturday portion at the Ridge’s Auditorium located on the Ohio University Campus. Click on the Ridge’s link for more information including a map of the old asylum grounds. Many of these buildings are in need of preservation/restoration. The alternative is demolition. The architecture is amazing and certainly worth seeing. Tom has arranged for George Eberts to give us a guided tour of the grounds at the end of Saturday’s program, guaranteed to be a real treat.

But before we get to the Conference on Saturday there is a bus tour all day on Friday. We have the White’s Mill to visit with hewn and sawn timbers. The Bonnaud barns with a couple conversions and the Lance barn as an example of a side entry New England barn with four bays. The Blower barn is a gable end drive through southern barn. The Arbuthnot barns sport all hewn timbers and pegged rafters. The Lochary barns have wooden hay tracks (actually, most of the barns in this area we looked at had wooden hay tracks) some of which are curved or are perpendicular to one another. Lunch will be provided by The Village Bakery at the Grange Hall in Amesville with the help of Amesville Mayor Gary Goosman.

The Department of Geography at Ohio University and the Geography Club agreed to host our conference this year. We are very fortunate to have Dr Timothy Anderson, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the Ohio University, as our Keynote speaker this year. Dr Anderson’s talk titled “Material Culture as a Proxy for Settlement Patterns and Process: The Pennsylvania Barn in Ohio” will depict the historical settlement and development of Ohio’s regional cultural landscapes. His research is focused on German immigration and the movement of the Pennsylvania-German population groups throughout Ohio and how these populations settled in separate groups with distinctive agricultural traditions, values and ideals.

Dr Anderson is currently the faculty advisor for the Geography Club at OU. He recently finished his five-year tenure as Chair of the Geography Department. He teaches the Introduction to Human Geography survey course and several intermediate/advanced courses as well as graduate courses in geography. Dr Anderson has received several awards including the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award and the Vision Ohio Excellence Award from the Ohio University. Since obtaining his PHD in Geography from Texas A&M in 1994 Dr Anderson has been extremely busy (and this is a short list) working on several college related and national committees, reviewing books and articles, writing articles, giving close to sixty or more presentations, as well as writing a book called Introduction to Human Geography: A World-Systems Approach. Currently Dr Anderson is beginning his journey of expanding his research of settlement patterns to more of a national and international scope including the settlement of the United States and how the patterns affected our diverse cultures.

One of our members, Bob Eichenberg, will be presenting on the use of GIS (Government Information Systems), an electronic mapping and data program and its potential applications for barn surveys and inventories and the distribution of cultural settlements and barn types across the state. Bob is an environmental planning and design professional and has ties with the Department of Geography at OU. He believes that GIS is a tool that, if used, can be beneficial in establishing a record and database for research and conservation of Ohio’s barn heritage.

Mr Vice President himself, Dan Troth, will delight us, I’m sure, with a lively presentation and slide show of barn raisings from the past. The entertainment will continue with Rudy Christian and Larry Sulzer as the Barn Detectives present their findings and show photos of the barns from Friday’s bus tour. Tom O’Grady, President of the Athens County Historical Society and Friends Board Member, will be presenting the history angle in a talk about the Asylum Grounds and the architect that designed it titled “The Legacy of Levi T. Scofield: Architect of the Athens Asylum and Other Treasures in Ohio’s Landscape”. Jane Forrest Redfern will stop by to talk about the Dairy Arts Barn around the corner from the asylum grounds as they are approaching their 100th birthday! Once again, it will be an interesting and entertaining conference, one not to be missed. There will, of course, be bakery trays provided by Fluff Bakery and coffee in the morning and a delicious lunch will be prepared by the Purple Chopstix Restaurant. So plan on attending to catch up with your barn friends and learn a thing or two about Athens, settlement patterns in Ohio, local history, architects, GIS, and witness the remarkable architecture of the buildings on the hill at the Ridge’s.

-Sarah Woodall

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