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 www.hancockhistoricalmuseum.org 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.
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.
The Fish Barn House. This house was constructed by Jeff & Jenny Fish using random hewn pieces.
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.
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, www.historicalparks.org, 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!