Barn Again visits Erie and Geauga counties

SALEM, Ohio – The popular Barn Again! In Ohio will return to northeastern Ohio in 2001 with stops in Erie and Geauga counties.

Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Historical Society initiated Barn Again! In Ohio in 1996 and have visited approximately 20 counties throughout the state, and there are plans to visit 20 to 25 counties in the next three to five years.

The program is designed to educate people of Ohio about the importance of agricultural structures, teach principles about how the barns came to be, how they were constructed and how they can be maintained and renovated, according to Tom Blaine, OSU Extension district specialist.

“These barns in Ohio were built to last, and they can last with the proper maintenance,” said Blaine. “We also want people to realize how much of an investment their old barn is, and that it is probably more economically feasible to restore an older barn than to build a new one.”

The two-day programs, always on Fridays and Saturdays, will feature a seminar and a barn tour. On Friday, participants will hear from experts in barn renovation, historical society members, barn consultants and Extension agents. Experts will teach how to date barns by their construction and what techniques to use in reconditioning the barns. The seminar will also cover roof and foundation repair and the costs of renovation.

Many historical members will also discuss the aesthetics of keeping the original look of the barns. The Saturday drive-it-yourself barn tours will allow participants to see barns in different stages of disrepair.

“People can take what they learn during the seminar and Friday and put that to use during the barn tour on Saturday,” said Charles Whitney, barn consultant. “We screen barns to make sure we have three or four really good examples.”

Whitney says they try to feature a reconditioned barn, a barn that needs to be renovated, a barn of historic architectural significance and one that needs little or no updating because it has been well preserved.

Blaine said it is also important to focus on barns that are currently being used as agricultural facilities.

“Many old barns have been transformed into restaurants or houses. We want to focus on barns people are using for agricultural reasons,” said Blaine.

Les Ober, Geauga County Extension agent, says his county is unique because most of the older barns are being used by farmers.

“Some of our participants will not be farmers, but the majority will be, I think. There will be some who own century homes who want to restore and old barn, and there will be a few who have converted their barns into markets or houses,” said Ober. “At one time, most of our barns housed horses, so many have been modified to accommodate modern ag.”

Blaine says after going through the program, many people register their barns with the Ohio Historical Society. Participants of the program will learn of a tax advantage to registering.

The Erie County program will be held March 9-10 at Erie MetroParks Headquarters in Huron. Registration materials will be available after Feb. 1 from Erie County Extension at 419-627-7631 or Erie County MetroParks at 419-625-7783.

The Geauga County program will be held Sept. 28-29 at the Geauga County Historical Society in Burton. For more information, call 440-834-4656.

The Geauga County Historical Society and Extension are currently cataloging historic barns in the county. Barn owners are encouraged to participate by sending a photograph and description of their barns. Forms are available at the extension office. Ober says about 20 people have already applied.

The catalog will be displayed at the 2001 Geauga County Fair.

Whitney and Blaine agree the popularity of barn restoration is growing. Blaine says of the four programs already held in northeastern Ohio, each averaged with an attendance of about 80 people.

A second Ohio Barn Conference II is planned April 6-7 at Fisher Auditorium, OARDC, in Wooster, Ohio. There, Whitney says, the possibility of forming an Ohio barn association will be discussed.

For more information on the conference, call Whitney at 740-393-2246.

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