Ohio Farmer

Fifth generation creates barn-based retreat

Barn Spotlight: Barns in the early years provided enough storage and stable room to supply what the family needed to survive from year to year.

9 Slides

Hisrich Hills, nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscarawas County, Ohio, is 280 acres of pure paradise.

The Moomaw family settled here in the 1830s, and the property has passed down through the generations, making Doug McGlumphy and wife Jennifer Greer the fifth generation to become stewards of the family farm.

To preserve the farmland, the tillable acreage is farmed by a neighbor for his dairy herd. The woods are being cleared of tulip poplar that was felled by a June 2022 windstorm to build a new timber-frame barn. The remainder is being maintained as a bird sanctuary and habitat for local wildlife.

An old catalpa tree graces the entrance to the farm lane with a large branch forming an arch over the entrance. A former one-room schoolhouse, relocated from Coshocton County in the 1930s, sits nearby.

Driving slowly up the lane, an 1825 log house with an 1842 timber-frame addition comes into view. The main room of the log house sparks one’s imagination back to the early 1800s, to life on the Ohio frontier, preparing meals in an authentic stone fireplace and experiencing sleeping on a rope bed.

Don’t feel like being a pioneer? The timber-frame addition has a fully equipped eat-in modern kitchen, comfortable beds and a private bath. A small timber-frame barn is adjacent to the log house. The springhouse has a date of 1858 carved in rock. Several historic houses are bed-and-breakfast units available for short-term rentals.

The long lane wonders up the valley past two picturesque ponds with a modern timber-frame pavilion on the shore of each pond. As the end of the lane, there is an 1820s timber-frame house, moved from Coshocton. It now resides on the side of the hill overlooking the second pond, and next to it is the crown jewel of the farm, a double-crib log barn.

Oak log barn

Sitting on its original site, the oak log barn is 28 feet by 59 feet. The logs have had dendrochronology done on the logs in both cribs resulting in a date of 1846, which means the barn was most likely built in 1847.

Built as a bank barn into the side of the hill, it creates natural access to the basement and the mow floor. A forebay is cantilevered 7 feet, 6 inches beyond the stable wall. Centered over the stone foundation is the peak of the roof, creating an asymmetrical roof line.

The short side of the roof covers the back side of the barn, while the long side of the roof is extended out over the forebay on the front of the barn. These features identify the structure as a Sweitzer barn that comes from the Germanic region of Europe.

On the back of the barn, two large-hinged doors open up to reveal the dogtrot, the area between the two log cribs and mow floor. At the far end of the dogtrot is a pair of wind doors, used in the threshing process. The only entrances to the cribs were openings high on the side of the interior walls. They were usually two or three logs in height, and 4 to 6 feet long for pitching long loose hay into the crib to store winter feed for the livestock.

This made access to the two cribs for any other purpose quite impossible. This log barn has been treated like so many others; the interior walls on either side of the dogtrot have been cut away to make one large open area. However, a mistake was made in this barn when the top logs were also cut out. They were the stabilizing ties to hold the adjacent walls vertical and prevent the weight of the roof from spreading the walls and causing collapse.

The fix, after the fact, was to install cables to pull the walls back into place and stablize them. Siding on the exterior of the log walls protects the logs from moisture.

Fancy pattern

The roof is sheathed in slate with an unusual fancy pattern. The slate rests on spaced-out roofing slats over pole rafters. The rafter plates are massive beams notched to hold the rafter poles in place. In the peak of the roof is a hay track. The hay track and trolley systems, circa 1860, were designed to move long-loose hay from a wagon to the mow.

Before the invention of the hay track system, barns were built with low walls — no use building a barn higher than hay could be pitched by a man with a hay fork. So why put a hay track in a small log barn? It could not be used with the log walls obstructing the passageway. Nor was the barn tall enough to lift a load of hay high enough to build a stack of hay in the cribs.

The foundation is cut sandstone. The forebay on the lower level of the barn protects the stable walls and doors. It also protects the livestock, giving them a place to get in and out of the hot sun or inclement weather. The basement has enough room to stable a team of horses or oxen, and perhaps a cow or hog. Barns in the early years were designed and used for sustainable farming. They provided enough storage and stable room to supply what the family needed to survive from year to year.

The windstorm of June 2022 knocked down many trees on the farm. Tulip poplar has been harvested and put to a new purpose. Down by the road a new timber-frame barn, the ArtBarn, is being built to be used as a place for artists-in-residence, to work and create.The timbers created from the fallen poplars and other reclaimed materials are being used to make the ArtBarn as environmentally friendly as posslble.

This place and the owners’ vision for it is amazing. They say it is a labor of love, and it continues to be an ever-evolving endeavor. For more information on this beautiful, peaceful retreat, search Hisrich Hills House Bed & Breakfast and ArtBarn.

The McGlumphy family was awarded the 2024 Barn of the Year Award for Adaptive Reuse by the Friends of Ohio Barns.

Whitney Gray is the Lady Barn Consultant and board member of Friends of Ohio Barns. Her mission is to work one-on-one with barn owners to educate them on the history, workings and construction of their barn, to help them to read the unwritten history their barn holds and to encourage its preservation for future generations. Contact her at [email protected] or call 740-263-1369.

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