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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 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.
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, 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!

2015 Conference Schedule

Ohio Barn Conference XVI

April 25th, 2015

The Brugeman Lodge at Riverbend Park

Findlay, Ohio Hancock County

8:00-8:30 Registration, coffee, donuts
8:30-9:00 Welcome by President Ric Beck
9:00-10:00 Keynote speaker – David Fey – Minding Your P’s
10:00-10:30 Morning Break, Exhibitors, Silent Auction
10:30-11:15 Al Parker – Night Life of the Hay Barn – The Barn Owl
11:15-12:00 Gary Wilson  – The History of Farming and the Relationship with the Co-operative Extension
12:00-2:00 Lunch, Annual Member Meeting, Awards
2:00-2:30 Barn Detectives – Rudy Christian and Dan Troth
2:30-3:15 David  Spahr – The Modern Family Farm
3:15-3:45 Afternoon Break, Exhibitors, Final Bidding
3:45-4:15 Kelly Rundle –  4th Wall Films “The Barn Raisers”
4:15-5:30 Wrap up, Silent Auction Dispersal, Member Visiting

Register Securely Online for the Ohio Barn Conference XV and Barn Tour Plus

Junior Barn Detective 2014 Pre-Conference Workshop

This year we have another pre-conference JBD Workshop (see here). We can only take 25 people for this event.

Important Information Regarding Registration:

Members can register online for the JBD Workshop and/or Barn Conference XV by clicking here. You have to register for the events separately due to the limit on the Workshop. When registering for the Conference and Barn Tour select your type of registration on the first page knowing that you will be able to sign up your guest/spouse on the second page where it has a button to “add a guest” at the guest/spouse reduced rate. You can also find a printable registration page here to send with your check payable to Friends of Ohio Barns at PO Box 203 Burbank, OH 44214. If you are registering by mail for the workshop please call ahead to make sure there is still room. If you have any questions or difficulties please call Sarah Woodall at 330-856-9053 or 330-550-6982.

2014 Conference Schedule

April 26th, 2014

The Glenn A Gallagher Centre

Mt Vernon, Ohio – Knox County

8:00-8:30 Registration, coffee, donuts
8:30-9:00 Welcome by President Ric Beck
9:00-10:00 Keynote speaker – Jeff Marshall
Barn Conversions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
10:00-10:30 Morning Break, Exhibitors, Silent Auction Bidding, Member Visiting
10:30-11:15 Doug Morgan – 100 by 2032: A Barn Odyssey
11:15-12:00 Dan Troth – Saving the Cellar Barn and House
12:00-2:00 Lunch, Annual Member Meeting, Awards
2:00-2:30 Barn Detectives
2:30-3:15 Tom O’Grady – A Little Bit of Knox County History
3:15-3:45 Afternoon Break, Exhibitors, Silent Auction Final Bidding
3:45-4:15 Rudy Christian & Laura Saeger – From Cow Manure to Contra Dances
4:15-5:30 Wrap up, Silent Auction Dispersal, Member Visiting

XV Ohio Barn Conference and Barn Tour

Can you say swing beam? Three out of the first five barns on the December Barnstorming trip in Knox County provided the Barnstormers with eye-popping views of swing beams! German-influenced swing beams are large beams that run the width of the barn within a bent with no posts to produce an open barn. They were originally placed in these positions to provide freedom of moving equipment and animals around in the barn. Sometimes there would be tether-poles set in the middle of the swing beam in threshing barns so that an animal could be tethered to the pole and be able to walk around in a circle on top of the grain to separate the grain from the stocks. One of these barns, the Boreman Barn, will be on the tour. This barn, located in Fredericktown, was also a part of the underground railroad. We will also visit the Cassell Barn that was built roughly around 1827 from a family that originated in Maryland. The 6th generation of this family is still working the farm! The Cassell Barn (a previous Barn of the Year winner) is the only Sweitzer barn in all of Knox County. There are several other very interesting barns on our tour this year including one to stump the Barn Detectives – maybe, we’ll see. The final stop will be at the Knox County Agricultural Museum located at the fairgrounds. This museum is loaded with tools and implements from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Lunch will be served in The Great Room by SIPs Signature Fare Catering at the Mt Vernon Developmental Center. This is an amazing old building set on beautiful grounds and will definitely fill the architectural need of the trip! The barn tour is set for Friday, April 25th and is an all day long adventure through Knox County. Please note that there is limited seating available so sign up early!


barn-1 Thursday afternoon we have a JBD Workshop on the schedule located at The Barn. In Keeping with the 2014 conference theme, of re-purposing historic barns to keep them viable for use in today’s modern world, attendees will have an opportunity to meet and talk with event-barn owners Janet and Steve Thompson. They purchased the barn and property, moved the barn and remodeled it for an extended-family gathering place. From there it grew into a business as a place to rent for special events. This is the perfect opportunity to ask questions about the decisions they made, the processes they went through, the problems encountered and the solutions they found. They have done it all from beginning to end and have a very interesting and successful story to share. Do not miss touring this unique facility! Please note we have to limit the number of attendees so sign up early.

Saturday’s conference will take place at the Glenn A Gallagher Centre in Mt Vernon. We have Jeff Marhsall as our Keynote Speaker this year. Jeffrey L. Marshall, President of Heritage Conservancy in Doylestown, PA has been involved in historic preservation for 30 years having been involved with the documenting, photographing and researching of over 10,000 old buildings. He is a recognized expert in southeastern Pennsylvania historic architecture. He is the author of books on Bucks County barns and one on Bucks County farmhouses as well as a half dozen books on local history. He has taught courses on barn documentation, history and preservation at the Bucks County Community College. Mr. Marshall has been the featured speaker for numerous barn programs and tours in Bucks, Montgomery and Northampton Counties. Marshall serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the National Barn Alliance and is the President of the Board of Directors of the Historic Barn and Farm Foundation of Pennsylvania. In addition to having extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania barns, he has studied barns in New England, New York, Ohio, Michigan and the South.

Mr. Marshall has made a career of linking land conservation and historic preservation. Heritage Conservancy is an organization with a mission of protecting the region’s natural and historic heritage. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association Board of Directors. In 2003 he was the recipient of inaugural “Bucks County Preservation Legacy Award” created in his honor for more than 20 years of leadership and dedication for the preservation of historic places and open spaces by the Bucks County Commissioners. He is also the recipient of Governor, Senate and Pennsylvania of Representatives commendations for career achievements in conservation and preservation.

Doug Morgan, President of Mt Vernon Barn Company, LTD will be giving a talk titled “100 by 2032: A Barn Odyssey” which Doug says will detail his philosophy, approach and efforts to preserve and repurpose historic Ohio barns. This ambitious man has a lot on his plate. The following is an excerpt from his biography and the full version can be found here. For 30 years Doug was a full-time corporate lawyer and part-time barn and log house mover and restorer. Over that time period, he moved and restored two circa 1820 Ohio log houses and two mid-19th century hand hewn timber frame barns on the Morgan family farm in Knox County. Two years ago, Doug and his wife Beth started the Mt Vernon Barn Company, and Doug transitioned to part-time lawyer and full-time barn mover and restorer. The goal of the Mt Vernon Barn Company is to save and repurpose at least 100 historic Ohio barns and log houses over the next 20 years, after which most of Ohio’s barns and log houses will be gone. In 2014, Doug and Beth launched Mount Vernon Millworks which offers high quality custom cabinetry handcrafted at the Company’s “off the grid” Amish woodworking shop near Morgan Farms, hardwood flooring, custom furniture handcrafted using reclaimed Ohio barn wood, and Adirondack furniture handcrafted to the Company’s specifications by Amish friends in Holmes County. Mt Vernon Millworks also supplies reclaimed wood to central Ohio architects and contractors for commercial and residential projects. Mt. Vernon Millworks aims to employ local woodworkers, to make high quality wood products using locally grown and reclaimed wood, for mostly local customers. The Company’s website can be found at www.mtvernonbarn.com.

barn-3Our very own Vice-President, Dan Troth will be giving a presentation on his recent project, the Cellar Barn and House. Dan will speak about his project of dismantling an historic barn dating to 1830 and the accompanying house that dates to 1839. Dan had learned that the barn and house complex was going to be burned in order to build a new housing community. He knew he had to step in and try to save part of Ohio’s tangible history. Fortunately, Dan has found homes for the barn and house and will explain the whole process that he went through and the future plans for these frames. When asked to provide a biography for this article Dan responded with the following: Let’s see… My father was a small town lawyer with a lot of farmers for clients. He used to take a carload of neighborhood boys every weekend to someone’s farm where we always ended up building forts in the barns’ haymows. That’s where I probably fell in love with barns, although I didn’t know it then. But we all know that what you experience as a child often is a determinant factor in who you eventually become. After years of building great forts and tree houses I landed in New Hampshire, where I helped frame new houses, then to New York City to try the acting thing for ten years. I helped do some remodeling there before meeting my wife who was in college. We came back to Ohio so she could teach and I could build barn homes with two architect friends. We started Rebarn in Akron but only one family wanted us to build them a barn home. The idea was big on the East Coast but not hear in the Midwest. So, I built custom homes and over the years embraced the concept of energy efficiency and have been building green homes ever since. I hate paying high utility bills. Whenever possible, I like to incorporate antique timber frames into these new homes and happen to live in an old barn that I moved to Delaware from Waynesville in 1998. I have loved what I have learned over the 28 years I have been a member of the Timber Framers Guild and love being on the board of Friends of Ohio Barns. Honestly, if I had my druthers, I’d just drive all over the countryside talking to people and exploring and photographing their barns. That’s my short answer to a bio request. Dan owns and operates GreenTech Construction in Columbus. Please view his website at www.greentechconstruction.com for more information plus it is a really cool website!

Our very own historian, Tom O’Grady will be delivering a talk about the history of Knox County. In his own words: Tom is a barn enthusiast. He hasn’t built any or burned any or torn any down. He has done some repair work on a few. Mostly he has explored many. As a board member Tom has been entrusted with the newsletter for Friends of Ohio Barns and has been its editor for a dozen years. He’s getting a pretty good idea how little he knows about barns. Tom’s day job for 25 years was initiating and operation waste reduction and recycling programs in Athens and Hocking counties. He has been working on conservation and sustainable economic improvement efforts since 1980. Tom has been teaching Astronomy at Ohio University by night for 30 years. Stars and garbage have been his bread and butter for a good while. Teaching an Ohio Geography course at Ohio University for a few years has given him an opportunity to look more closely at the people who settled Ohio, where they came from, where they landed, and what kinds of structures they added to the Ohio landscape. This has given him a good idea of how little he knows about Ohio, but he finds it pretty exciting work. In his spare time Tom serves on the boards of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum and Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area. Look for his talk titled A Little Bit of Knox County History.

barn-2And, our very own barn experts, Laura Saeger and Rudy Christian, will present the story of an 1837 Michigan barn that was moved once in 1894 and then again in 2013. The second time it took a trip to Ohio for repairs and modifications, then back to Cornman Farms in Dexter Michigan for use as an event space. The presentation will include information about documentation and deconstructions, as well as repair techniques and raising. You will also hear about the importance of understanding code and safety requirements when a project like this is being considered. Laura and Rudy hope you will come prepared to ask questions about this increasingly popular way of finding new uses for our old barns. You are not going to want to miss “From Cow Manure to Contra Dances”! Look for more information on this project and lots more on their website www.christianandson.com.

Of course the Barn Detectives will be on site Friday for the Barn Tour and Saturday for their re-cap performance. Silent Auction, Member Meeting and Barn of the Year Awards will take place during the lunch break. After such an inspirational day packed with information one may just want to venture down to SIPs Coffee House on South Main St for some live folk music (the Al Creek Band) and dinner to wind down.

Knox County has much to offer besides our upcoming conference! Mt Vernon is the county seat and has been called the “Colonial City”. One must drive down High Street to see some magnificent houses and, of course, the buildings on the square such as the Courthouse, St Paul’s Episcopal Church and Woodward Opera House must be viewed if architecture is your thing. Mt Vernon boasts three historical districts, Gambier Village and Kenyon College which was recently named one of the ten most beautiful campuses. Driving around the hills and valleys of Knox County one can find New England Barns and Pennsylvania barns. Most of the immigrants came from Ireland and England and the area is rich in history. Visit www.visitknoxohio.org for more information on Knox County. 

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Please note the above registration post for more information. Look here for Saturday’s schedule. Hope to see you in April!