Barn stands in way of development

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SALEM, Ohio – Ohio celebrated its first 200 years just last year, but already the reminders of the past are fading away.
Gone forever. Hocking County’s bicentennial barn, the second to be painted in Ohio, is no more.
“I hate the fact that the second barn painted was the first one to be torn down,” said area resident Brian Meyer.
When Meyer heard about plans to demolish the barn, located along Route 33, he knew he had to do something.
Extreme measures. He called TV stations and newspapers, but knew the only way to get widespread publicity to save the barn was to go to extreme measures, so he even tried to prevent the demolition by chaining himself to the barn.
His extreme ambitions dissolved when he realized there was nothing to be done to save the barn.
“I knew that if they were going to tear it down that they didn’t care about the community and that means they wouldn’t care about me,” Meyer said.
Meyer was not alone in his attempt. Other community members got involved, including resident Steve Williams and Randie Adams of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association.
Gas station. Williams said the barn was on a piece of property that was going to be used for development. The site of the barn was going to be a new gas station.
“It’s all about location, location, location,” Meyer said, “but they could have saved it and still have had a business there.”
Williams said when local residents discovered the plans, they called new owners Jim and Linda Britton, who bought the property and barn from Sherm and Regina Prater, and tried to get them to preserve or move the barn.
The Brittons are area residents but do not live on the land.
When phone calls were not returned, Adams became the point person between the developers and those trying to save the barn.
“We would have liked to see it saved, it was part of the legacy,” she said. “But it’s private land and there was nothing we could do.”
Eventually, Williams was told by the owners that they would offer it free of charge to anyone who would move it.
No funds. The Brittons even offered the barn to Williams, but he had no means nor money to take it.
Williams even tried to find some state funding but none could be found, especially with such limited time.
“I guess you’ve got to go with the times,” said Meyer, “even if change and progress means destroying our heritage and landmarks.”
The developers did not return Farm and Dairy’s calls for comments.
Other changes. Although the Hocking County barn is the first to be demolished, it is not the only barn to see changes.
According to Ohiobarns.com, the bicentennial barn painted in Guernsey County has been painted over and now advertises the barn artwork of the original bicentennial painter, Scott Hagan.
The 13th barn painted, located in Hardin County, has been covered with vinyl siding.
Rebirth? The Hocking County bicentennial barn maybe gone, but its legacy may live on.
Another barn in Hocking County has been donated to possibly be painted with the logo.
Hocking Hills Tourism is exploring what residents can do to repaint Hocking County back into Ohio’s history.

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