Ohio barns conference features Holmes County

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Brothers John and Caleb Miller, of JCM Timberworks, demonstrate hand hewing.

MILLERSBURG, Ohio — The historic barns of Holmes County were featured April 28-29, when the Friends of Ohio Barns held its annual conference in the county for the first time.

The barns represented a wide range of history and design, and included a Mail Pouch Tobacco barn, the Legends of Music Barn featuring musical artists painted by artist Rusty Baker, and the Holmes County Home Barn, which features the Ohio Bicentennial logo painted by artist Scott Hagan in 2000.

Holmes County Home barn

The tour also featured the Shreiner barn at the new Holmes County Fairgrounds, a restored example of a Pennsylvania forebay bank barn; and the Lang Barn, owned by Barb and Loren Lang, which features another restored forebay barn, relocated and set on a new foundation.

The organization held its conference April 29, at Flying Ridge Hunt Club, just west of Millersburg.

Rural heritage

Mariangela Pfister, preservation official for the Ohio History Connection, encouraged the group of barn owners and historians present to take pride in Ohio’s rural heritage.

“What would Ohio look like without our rural buildings,” she asked. “You don’t know what you don’t have until it’s gone.”

She gave an overview of preservation efforts in Ohio and across the country, noting that in 2016, the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act — a law that promotes the preservation of historic sites and archeology in the U.S.

Pfister said Ohioans have two main resources to help with barn restorations: a 20 percent tax credit from the federal government, and a 25 percent tax credit from Ohio, through the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. The biggest difference, she said, is that the state program is competitive.

But both programs are available, and Pfister said Ohio barn owners should be taking advantage.

“There is zero reason why you all should not be taking advantage of the state and federal tax credits,” she said, noting that last year, Ohio ranked No. 1 in the country for successfully completed federal rehabilitation tax credit projects.

Honors given

During the presentation of awards, Ric Beck, past president, recognized Paul Knoebel for 15 years of operating the “mini-barn,” a portable, mini-sized barn that children constructed under his guidance.

Paul Koebel (left) and Ric Beck.

The barn has been raised 165 times, by children ages 5-15. Knoebel is retiring the barn, but it will continue to be on display at the Hancock Historical Museum in Findlay.

“This mini-barn has meant the world to all of us and I know it has meant the world to young kids,” Beck said.

New lifetime members of the Friends of Ohio Barns include Mike Wengler, Rick Secrist, Ken Noffsinger, Brian Piergiovanni, Dave Hamblin, Chuck Bultman and Barb Lang.

Barn of the Year awards went to Sam Erb, agricultural use; Rusty Baker, adaptive reuse; and the barn at the Holmes County Fairgrounds was recognized for the stewardship award.

The barn organization will hold its fall picnic this fall, when it gathers at Rus-Men Farms in Galion, Oct. 21. For more information, visit www.friendsofohiobarns.org.

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Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.

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