The Delaware County Historical Society recently completed the first phase of a restoration project at The Barn at Stratford and received a grant from the State of Ohio’s Facilities Construction Commission for $250,000, which covered most of the expenses. Funding was approved by the state legislature as part of the 2018-2019 budget.
A facility applying for this type of grant must be owned and operated by an Ohio-incorporated 501(c)(3) organization (not-for-profit) or an Ohio local government, which meets the statutory definition of a “cultural facility.” As a historical site, used for education, The Barn at Stratford fits that criteria and must continue to do so for the duration of the state bond, which is 10 years. Working with then state Rep. Andrew Brenner (R), the historical society applied for the grant in the fall of 2017 and was notified of the funding the following April. Brenner, who was recently elected to the Ohio Senate from District 19, fully supported this grant and was instrumental in obtaining the funding.
To qualify for the grant, the project required a “local match” totaling $1 of non-state resources for every $2 appropriated by the state. The historical society’s local contribution came from the value of the property.
The overall objective of the project was to achieve renovation and restoration of the barn using methods that provide historical integrity and appearance, while ensuring safety and preservation. The work included replacing deteriorated major timber beams and joists, replacing 20th century steel support columns, reinstalling previously removed support columns, pouring concrete footings, installing structural reinforcing tension rods, and removing a 20th century freight elevator. The work was completed by JCM Timberworks, which operates out of Killbuck, Ohio, from January 2019 to March 2019, during which time the Barn was closed for events.
The barn was built in 1848 by George Bieber and is a fine example of a Sweitzer Forebay barn, a type traditionally associated with the middle Atlantic area of early America, specifically Pennsylvania, but a unique style of barn for Ohio and the Midwest. The stone-end bank barn measures 84-by-36. The foundation and stone end walls were laid of squared and coursed limestone and rubble from the plentiful deposits at and near the surface in the immediate area and visible at the banks of the nearby Olentangy River. The massive timber structural elements, many of which can easily be seen from inside the barn, are the hand-hewn products of the first-growth surrounding forest, which was being cleared at a rapid pace during the mid-1800s. The roof, now covered with galvanized steel bi-rib panels from the mid-20th century, was originally of wood shingles.
The Barn and Meeker House, at 2690 Stratford Road in Delaware, are on the National Historic Register and are one of the most intact homesteads in Delaware County, believed to have been part of the Underground Railroad. The property is owned and used by the historical society for community gatherings, special events, and educational programs for both adults and school children. The restoration will ensure that the barn survives and contributes for another 171 years, to educate and to be enjoyed by future generations. The ongoing complete commercial redevelopment of the 80-acre farm site immediately to the north of the property makes it even more important to preserve the history and heritage of the Stratford area.
The Delaware County Historical Society is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, preserve and sustain interest in the history of Delaware County. The Barn at Stratford is operated by DCHS as an event venue for weddings, corporate meetings and other special occasions. To learn more, visit the venue and society web sites at barnatstratford.org and delawareohiohistory.org.
This story was submitted by the Delaware County Historical Society.