Bicentennial barns bring big celebration


From slate roofs to bicentennial barns and through a field guide to New England barns, Ohio barn enthusiasts will be in for a treat when the fourth Ohio Barn Conference comes to Ohio’s first capitol, Chillicothe, April 25 and 26.

With help from the Ohio Bicentennial Commission and Ohio State University Extension, Friends of Ohio Barns has put together a bicentennial barn celebration to increase the love and appreciation of Ohio’s agricultural icon: the family barn.

First day. Friday’s agenda includes special guest Joe Jenkins, author of the Slate Roofers Bible. Joe will go step by step through the process of slate roof repair.

Learn how and when to replace slate or the right questions to ask when selecting someone else to do the repair.

With onsite demonstrations and plenty of time to answer slate roof questions, Joe will also be available to sign copies of his book.

Author, expert. Following the author and barn expert theme, Tom Visser, author of Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings, will take participants on a tour of the barns of New England.

Learn the different names of the unique barns found in New England, the purpose of these barns and how the style reflects the culture of the barn builder as well as the barn owners.

Did these barn styles follow the westward migration as the Ohio country was settled? Did Ohio settlers adapt a barn style unique to their own needs?

These and other questions will be answered.

Carol Ruger, of Wooster Book Company, has once again agreed to provide a great assortment of barn-related references including Tom’s Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings and Joe’s Slate Roofers Bible.

Barn painter. To complete the bicentennial celebration, Scott Hagan, Ohio’s bicentennial barn painter, will share stories of his travels across the state as he painted 89 official bicentennial barns.

Why 89? There are only 88 counties in Ohio.

The answer to this and any other bicentennial barn questions will be address during the conference as well.

In addition, all bicentennial barn families have been invited to the event to share their personal experiences and stories of their special barn.

Learn the history behind these famous barns, how they were chosen, how they are being used today, and their own stories and experiences since becoming an owner of a bicentennial barn.

Next day. Saturday’s conference attendees can participate in another barn tour.

Plans for the tour include a double-crib log barn, a Dutch barn, and a feed mill with scribed posts (alleged to be the oldest standing building in Hocking County).

The “barn detectives” (back by popular demand) will once again be narrating the barn tour and guest historians will point out local historical sites and points of interest.

Two buses have been chartered for conference attendees who wish to participate in the barn tour.

Official business. Other business to be addressed at this annual gathering of Friends of Oho Barns is the election of three board members.

Board members serve a three-year term, with the responsibilities of educating the public about barn conservation through workshops, public meetings and community events as well as conducting business of the organization.

Signing up. To become a part of the board of Friends of Ohio Barns, please send the request including name, address, phone and a brief description explaining your goals and contributions to the organization to Friends of Ohio Barns.

Send this care of Tim Mason, 6500 Horns Hill Road, St. Louisville, Ohio, 43071 or e-mail to

Membership renewal is due at conference time.

More info. To request Friends of Ohio Barns membership information write to P.O. Box 203, Burbank, OH 44214 or

For more information about the conference call 740-702-3200 or visit

(The author is chief naturalist for Dawes Arboretum and vice chairman of Friends of Ohio Barns. He can be contacted by writing to 6500 Horns Hill Road, St. Louisville, OH 43071 or by e-mail at or on the Web at


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