Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Barn Restoration - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

A Series of Guest Blogs by an out-of-state Fish Report reader originally from this area about fond memories of growing up in Midwestern Ohio during the 50’s & 60’s

Barn Restoration

Earlier this fall, Tom, a long-time friend from my childhood, whom I’ve written about in this previous blogpost, was driving out to Arrowhead in Minster for a round of golf and noticed on the way that the barn on our family farm west of Ft. Loramie was being torn down. We had sold the farm a number of years ago after our Dad (pictured below in front of the barn) had passed away at age 94. Needless to say, it was a shock to our family that the old barn built in 1882 by our great grandfather Heinrich (right) was being torn down.

My sister who lives in Ft. Loramie reached out to the current owners and discovered that the barn was actually being dismantled piece-by-piece and was to be relocated and rebuilt somewhere in Virginia! That was a pleasant surprise to know that the structure would carry on, albeit in a remote location from its origin. The unique style of a bank barn is characterized by the hill “banking” up to the second level allowing hay and straw wagons to be driven right up to the mow. It also was handy in that the hay and straw could be dropped from above into the mangers and stables. Plus as kids, we had great fun in winter sliding down the hill as depicted in this photo. Look closely and you’ll notice that I had improvised using a scoop shovel as a sled!

As is evident from the following series of photos, the barn dismantling process was somewhat complex and time consuming. As parts of the barn were uncovered, vivid memories of times spent literally among all the nooks & crannies of the old barn came back to mind.

Dismantling started by carefully removing the long 136 year old siding boards without damaging them. Here’s an interesting article I found on-line about salvaging an old barn. The above view shows the east side of the barn where the milking parlor was located right below the granary used for storing oats. That allowed feed to be dropped from above through a shoot to feed the dairy cows as they were being milked; yet another advantage with a bank barn design leveraging gravity to save labor. Dismantling the milking parlor actually had a somewhat soothing effect to counter all those non-so-pleasant memories of milking the cows twice a day, 365 days a year.

Next the dismantling company moved to the south side of the barn, and first had to remove red shingles that Dad had installed over the boards to preclude having to paint. The south side took most of the weather so paint never lasted more than a year or two. Note the inside ladder going up to the peak. I had climbed that countless times and traversed the beams like a tightrope walker.

Next came the teardown of the bank wing on the west side with the hill that seemed so steep when I was a kid.

The north-side followed as shown here. This was the end with the stable where the cows stayed in winter. The hay loft was directly above again so the cows could be readily fed. During the other seasons, the herd grazed in the pasture with the creek visible behind the barn in the lead-in photo to this blogpost.

So with all the siding removed, the basic structure of the barn becomes very evident. This view shows where our inside basketball court was when I was a kid. Imagine in the wintertime both the hay mow on the left and the straw mow on the right filled to the rafters with the center area clear leaving space for a basketball court. The backboard hung down from the rafters and could be folded up whenever loads of hay or straw were brought in during the summer to unload into the mows. With the cows below and the two mows on each side, the court-side temps always seemed much warmer than outside. This court originated out of necessity, after several of us got caught playing basketball in the high school gym one weekend. On Friday’s, we would conveniently leave an outside window unlocked so we could get in. If I recall, a classmate got expelled for the mischief; somehow not me, fortunately.

Note the inside ladder going up to the peak. I had climbed that countless times and traversed the beams like a tightrope walker. Also, the old swing hanging by a rope from a beam evident in the photo below had provided so much fun over the years. We could swing from high in the hay mow on one side and jump out of the swing into the straw mow on the opposite side. The hay was itchy but the straw was soft, cushy and much lighter than hay. That’s why we always built our tunnels in the straw mow. They were so such fun, literally creating and exploring a multi-layer maze within the straw.

Once all four sides were removed, the sheet metal roof was taken off followed by removal of the floorboards and rugged support beams.

And finally the superstructure was fully disassembled.

Now we'll have to wait until the barn is reconstructed in Virginia. My brother and our sons will someday take a road trip to check it out once the barn is fully restored. We might time it with a visit to Augusta for the Masters, another item on our bucket lists.

Here are some memorable photos with the old barn in the background.

Mom & Dad on their 40th wedding anniversary still fitting in her dress and his suit.

Family photo from around 1985 with the homestead in the background.

Hopefully someday in the future, there will be another rainbow over the old barn creating more pot-of-gold memories for the new owners.


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