A sneak peek of the barn conference

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The fourth annual Ohio Barn Conference is fast upon us!

It is being organized by the Friends of Ohio Barns in conjunction with the Ross County Extension Office and the Bicentennial Commission.

Friends of Ohio Barns is a nonprofit organization that works in conjunction with Barn Again! in Ohio, the National Barn Alliance, and the Ohio Historical Society.

The conference is April 25-26 on the beautiful Ross County Fairgrounds, just north of Chillicothe, Ohio.

What’s included. The conference will include a trade fair, educational exhibits, barn craft demonstrations, a book store and a self-guided tour of historic Chillicothe, Ohio’s first capital.

Several noted speakers discussing various barn-related topics will be there. They include: Tom Visser, author of A Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings; Joseph Jenkins, roof contractor and author of The Slate Roof Bible; Scott Hagen, now famous for his paintings of the 88 bicentennial barns; Pat Medert, on historical views of the Chillicothe area; Carroll Neidhardt, on folkways and barn folklore; and the return of the Barn Detectives.

Local tour. Part of the conference that is becoming a favorite is the barn tour in the local area.

Friends of Ohio Barns promises not to disappoint with at least four stops and up to eight barns to study.

There will be a wide variety of barns on the tour – from the very old, to the unusual, to the everyday.

Some barns will be an illustration of common repairs that are needed, some where the repairs didn’t work well, and some will showcase the dedication of the owners who have preserved them.

The marquee barns on the tour will be a double-crib log barn, an unusual round barn, and a slightly modern, but interesting, dairy barn.

Log example. The log barn is on the Mary Lou Yaw farm, built around the time of statehood. Yaw even has the original deed to the property, signed by Thomas Jefferson!

It is an unassuming structure from the outside, repaired with various materials from different eras, but the inside reveals life on the farm and the type of barns built in the area during early statehood times.

It has original Ohio virgin timber logs, some as big as 2 by 3 feet in dimension, 20 plus feet long.

The farm and its buildings are on the historic register and will be a hit for historians.

Round example. The round barn belongs to the Charles Maxwell family and is located in the Hallsville area. While round barns are not uncommon in Ohio, it is unusual to find one in this area.

It is in magnificent condition, having had extensive roof repairs after a disastrous storm a few years ago. Even though the barn hasn’t been used much since 1988, it is a proud monument to the builder and the stewards of this awesome structure.

The ground floor could feed as many as 100 cattle at a time!

Dairy example. The Wisconsin-style dairy barn is just south of the fairgrounds and was built in 1939.

It is more a stick-built frame, but it has a unique and interesting gabled roof on it. The farmstead also has an unusual timber frame granary barn, too.

Both of these well-preserved, working barns are part of the old Ackley Farm, now owned by the McKees and up for national registry nomination.

Expert work. The barn tour will feature historical information of the farmsteads, the geographic area and interesting aspects of each structure.

Friends of Ohio Barns board members and timber frame experts Rudy Christian and Larry Sulzer will perform a bit of barn detective work on the tour barns as well as provide examples of common structural problems and suggestions for remedies.

Unlike any other. The barn tour will be a great way to see, learn and appreciate Ohio’s rich heritage of majestic farm icons.

The variety, use, style and craftsmanship of the barns of Ohio are unlike any in the country.

The purpose of the barn conference and the barn tour is to help Ohioans understand the significance of Ohio’s historic barns, their agricultural and architectural context, and their maintenance requirements.

Barn donation. During this celebration of our state’s bicentennial and our commemoration of Chillicothe as our first state capital, Friends of Ohio Barns will join the county extension office and the Bicentennial Commission to hopefully preserve and donate a local barn to the Ross County Fairgrounds.

Two examples of barns that will be discussed as possible donations, will be a double-crib log barn and a four-bay bank barn.

These barns are typical for the area, and they provided an important function in the agricultural development of Ross County.

The group hopes to agree on a structure that will be donated, dismantled, moved and raised during this bicentennial year.

Friends of Ohio Barns, the extension office and the Bicentennial Commission will be looking for experts and volunteers to help in this extensive and important project.

Thankful. The hospitality, information and willingness of the barn owners, whose barns were toured for conference possibilities, are a testament to the wonderful people of the Chillicothe area.

There are many magnificent structures in the Buckeye State and equally as many magnificent people, too.

Contacts. Please be sure and contact someone from these organizations if you are interested in helping out during the conference.

If you can’t make it to the conference, please feel free to contact Friends of Ohio Barns at FriendsOhioBarns@aol.com to let us know if you want to help.

If you want to know more about the conference, look at Friends of Ohio Barns Web site, http://ohiobarns.osu.edu, or contact Ray Wells at the Ross County Extension office, 740-702-3200.

(The author is a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Ohio Barns. He can be contacted at friendsohiobarns@aol.com, by fax at 330-624-0501, or at 7215 Kimberly Court, Westerville, OH 43082.)

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