Tag Archives: Past Conferences

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. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Register Securely Online for the Ohio Barn Conference XIV and Barn Tour plus Junior Barn Detective 2013 Pre-Conference Workshop

Important Information Regarding Registration.

This year we have added a pre-conference JBD Workshop (see here). We can only take 25 people for this event. Members can register online by clicking on the Calendar of Events at the top of the menu column to the left on this page and you will then see both the JBD workshop and the Ohio Barn Conference XIV and Barn Tour. 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 spouse on the second page where it has a button to “add a guest” at the spouse reduced rate. You can also find a registration page here to print and 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.

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

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.