In September of 2010, the Friends of Ohio Barns teamed up with the Timber Framers Guild and took on a huge project in Upper Arlington, Ohio.
I grew up in Upper Arlington on Redding Road and knew the area well. When my parents bought the house in 1950, we were way out in the middle of a wheat field. I witnessed the sprawl of Upper Arlington until we moved in 1959. My name is scrawled in a childish hand with a carpenter’s pencil in most of the houses as they went up around us. So, I was curious to find out more about the old barn out on Lane Road, where we went to buy eggs.
Last standing timber-frame barn
When the old barn was discovered and determined to be the oldest and last standing timber-frame barn in the city, it was a plus to learn the provenance from the Legg family. Thomas Legg built the barn in 1838 near the intersection of Fishinger and Reed roads in Upper Arlington.
The barn was moved in 1938 about a mile or so north to Lane Road, to a farm where the barn had burned.
The frame was tagged, dismantled and put in storage until a place could be acquired to rebuild and restore it. The decision was made to include it in Sunny 95 Park, which is off of Carriage Lane in Upper Arlington.
Old, new joined for event space
The concept became a dual project, with the idea being to marry the old barn with a new timber-frame structure. This provided the square footage needed for events and would incorporate all the modern amenities needed for its new life.
The site was prepared by the city, and it was time for the timber framers to go to work. Volunteers started work, arriving from all over the country. They pitched tents and set up campers in preparation for the two-week job. The site was next to Greensview Elementary School. Neither the students nor the craftsmen knew what a treat they were in for. The students were curious, and the workers were willing to share their knowledge of this ancient building technology.
Hands-on learning for students, public
The public and students were invited to visit the work site. All of the elementary classes and interested persons had a chance to visit and watch hewing and joinery demonstrations. They also were able to try their hand at turning a T-auger or mortise machine, as well as pounding a peg with a wooden mallet.
During the second week a large wind- and rainstorm blew through, taking down an old tree in front of the school. The men went over to see the tree and thought saving one of the limbs and putting it in the frame of the new facility would be a great idea. And so it was done!
Near the end of the end of the project, the students invited the men to lunch. The men were surprised with walls plastered in hundreds of pictures of barns drawn by the students.
When all the preparation work was done, a public barn raising was held. The crowd watched in awe as the old timber frame was raised by hand, just as it would have been when Thomas Legg built it 182 years earlier.
Center for events, plays, concerts
The finished project has provided the community with a 3,700-square-foot event center for meetings, weddings, reunions and other gatherings. It is equipped with restrooms, a kitchen and audiovisual equipment. On the back side, it can be opened for use as an amphitheater for plays and concerts.
The façade is modern in its appearance. Walking through the main entrance into the old barn, there is a feeling of warm welcome that comes from the old oak timbers hewn out of virgin forest trees.
The Legg family donated the barn; and the Mirolo Charitable Foundation, formed in 1993, was a major contributor and supporter of the community center project. Amelita Mirolo was a philanthropist who supported arts and education in the Upper Arlington community, and the Amelita Mirolo Barn was named to honor her legacy.
For more information on the community center, contact bit.ly/mirolobarn.
Contact Gray, the “lady barn consultant,” to share interesting stories of your family barn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-263-1369.