Background for Ohio Timber Framing

As we have learned from earlier sections, Ohio’s rich soils, favorable climate and abundant water sources attracted farmers from very diverse ethnic backgrounds. This provided Ohioans with a rich variety of historic barn types; possibly the richest in the land. Although the different forms of barns represent many diversified farming approaches, the way in which the barns in the early 19th Century were constructed was actually quite consistent, represented two basic modes of building; log and timber framing. This is understandable since over 95% of Ohio was climax forest when settlers first arrived (Ohio’s Natural Heritage, 1980, 9).

Although forests varied in species, the trees chosen by the early carpenters indicate their knowledge of those trees which were the best for barn building. Today, Ohio’s virgin forest can be viewed in very few places other than in Ohio’s barns. In areas where it was available (primarily southeastern Ohio) American chestnut was the tree of choice. It is extremely strong, works well with hand forged edge tools and has great resistance to rot. Where chestnut was not available, white oak was chosen for the same qualities, but was slightly less rot resistance. White oak was readily available in south central, eastern and central western Ohio, but was less available in north, west, or central areas of the state. In these area barns can be found built with beech, elm, sycamore, hemlock and red and black oak. When the best types of trees were available you used them, but if not, you built with what you had. As the renowned Ohio Amish barn builder Jose Miller once said: "The best wood for building a barn is green."

Important to understand when studying early barns is who built them. When the American frontier opened up, the systems of log and timber frame construction were well developed from long standing traditions in Europe and other areas of the world. Today, wonderful examples of timber frame barn and cathedral construction still exist and have been surveyed and documented dating back to the 13th Century in England (Hewett, 1980).

One needs only to study the histories of England, France or Germany to realize that the evolution of timber frame construction was paralleled by the development and maintenance of trades education. This was carried out through Guilds for many centuries and today healthy trades education systems in France and Germany produce highly qualified "companion" and "zimmermen." These were the sources of the skilled builders who came to the New World and brought with them the knowledge and tradition that built the wood framed churches, meeting houses, bridges, farm houses and barns of Colonial America. Studying timber buildings in the Old World and comparing them to those built in the New World quickly shows how these centuries-old traditions arrived with the early builders and were put to use for the most part unchanged.

As one might imagine, these ancient building traditions could only survive unchanged in the New World for just so long. By the time the rich lands of Ohio were beginning to be settled, new forms of barn building had evolved. The majority of barns built in Ohio were built based on traditional forms, but the timber framers were using a system of layout and framing patterns that was truly of American origin. Understanding this evolutionary process can contribute significantly to the process of identifying and dating Ohio’s historic timber barns.

Siding and Roofing

To study historic timber barns, the simple systems used to enclose them are a tremendous aid in seeing all of the various parts. Since barns are typically unheated storage buildings, the enclosure of the walls is accomplished by simply nailing boards to the exterior surface of the frame. In Ohio these boards are much more often vertical than horizontal. In some cases narrow strips of wood called "battens" are nailed over the vertical seams to further weatherproof the barn. The roof is covered in a similar fashion by either applying continuous horizontal boards referred to as "sheathing" or narrow horizontal boards spaced several inches apart, referred to as "skip sheathing."

In early 19th century barns the roof sheathing was covered with wooden shakes. These "shake shingles" were split from white or red oak billets using wedges and clubs to form sections that were then carefully "riven" with a froe to a consistent size and thickness. By the early 20th Century, more durable roofing was provided using "standing seam" galvanized steel or thin slates. The steel roofing was supplied by the mills that had grown up in the big industrial cities of the Great Lakes, while the roof slates were transported by rail from the Vermont-New York, and Eastern Pennsylvania quarries. These "stone shingles" were hand split from larger quarried blocks. The use of slate in America can be traced to the colonial period, but in Ohio its popularity was dependent on improved transportation, first by canal and quickly thereafter, by rail freight. By the 1880s slate had established itself as a competitive roofing material (Stephens 1995, 246).

A heavy and durable roof material, slate’s thickness is the critical factor in determining weight. "A modest-sized barn having thirty squares of standard three-eights-inch slate shingles would require, at a minimum, nine tons of roofing material (Stephens 1995, 247). Where farmers could afford the additional expense, decorated patterns produced by different colored slates, or dates, names, or initials were incorporated in the roof. The pattern of decorated slate roofs shows that most of them were erected in the northern half of the state, reflecting the greater agricultural productivity and prosperity in that area. Many beautiful slate roofs on Ohio barns are now over a century old and bear the date to prove it.

The Barn Frame

To identify the way in which the carpenter converted the trees (logs) to timbers and then marked out the timbers in the frame in order to cut the "joinery" or wooden connections that secure the various parts of the frame, enables one to understand Ohio’s historic barns. Interior timbers often can be viewed on all four sides, while those against the exterior can be viewed from at least two or three. This allows for close inspection to reveal clues as to how the barn was built. Furthermore, evidence still remains that reveals how the timbers were converted from logs to square "cants," as well as how they were marked out by the carpenter shaping them into the various pieces that make up the structural frame work. Looking closely at the surfaces or faces reveals how the timbers were "squared up" from logs. This was done by either "hewing" the logs square with an axe, riving them with wedges and froes, or sawing them square. Although the technology to saw logs using water power had long existed in Europe, in the earliest periods of Ohio’s settlement sawmills did not exist, nor the infrastructure needed to transport the timber from the mills to the areas being settled. This meant the earliest barn builders had to hew their logs. Since the timbers were typically cut from the trees on the homestead, the hewing was done either in the woods or at the site where the barn was to be raised. This worked well for the larger timbers such as posts, sills or tie beams, but hewing smaller trees to make the rafters, wall girts (for nailing siding) and braces was not practical. Instead these were split or riven similar to the way shakes were created. For the rafters simple "poles" or small diameter trees that grew in the forest understory were used. They were typically hewn flat on the upper face and framed up with the tree bark still on them. Wall girts were often done the same way, although just as often they were converted (as were the braces) by riving them.

Barns framed completely of hand converted scantlings are not common today in Ohio. They represent the earliest or first period settlement structures, which for most of Ohio is the first half of the 19th Century. They were often small, although one full size Pennsylvania forebay barn built this way has been recorded in Ashland County (Ensminger, 1980) so their utility was compromised as farming operations changed. Barns this age in Ohio would all have been built with wooden shake roofs that were prone to letting in water soon after they were applied, causing the barn timbers eventually to rot. When these barns are discovered still surviving, they deserve not only careful study, but effective stewardship.

Saw Mills and Sawn Timbers

Soon after the first settlers arrived, entrepreneurs who knew the value of sawing timber and boards, as well as milling flour, built water powered mills along many of Ohio’s rivers, streams and creeks. This quickly changed the way barn timbers were converted. Since sawyers knew they could sell large amounts of small scantlings for rafters, girts and braces, they began sawing these materials to standard sizes. Timber framers found it very practical to transport material that was small on even the earliest wagon paths. Traveling to the mill by oxcart to purchase 4x4 brace stock was also something that could be done by young apprentices, while the experienced framers set about the business of hewing the larger timbers. As roads improved larger timbers could be hauled, and in some cases even large girts, posts and ties were framed from sawn stock.

The early water-powered mills were an asset to barn builders, but they were slow and limited to relative short logs. Thus, the barns built in these times exhibit hand-converted timbers for most of the principle members. The early mills were built on a principle called "up and down" sawing, also known as frame or sash sawing, since the saw blade was a straight piece of heavy steel mounted in a wooden frame. This frame would move up and down, while the carriage mechanism slowly moved the log through the frame. This method of milling left easily identifiable "saw tracks" that run straight, but slanted, across the face of the timbers as coarse parallel lines. Discovering barns that have both hewn and sash sawn timbers usually means they were built after the first sawyers arrived, but probably before the Civil War when a major change in saw milling technology occurred.

Developing enough horsepower to run a circular saw large enough to mill logs was difficult using water wheels or water driven turbines, but steam engines developed in the mid-19th Century were capable of running large blades at high speeds. These new mills could cut large diameter logs at higher feed rates and often were built to handle logs of greater length, although usually limited to 18' to 30' or so. Circular saw mills quickly replaced vertical mills in the mid-19 Century. A major change in barn construction resulted, since improved mills and improved roads meant timber framers could build barns more quickly and completely with sawn materials. This was done by making longer timbers from shorter sawn pieces "scarfed" together end to end. Some timber framers still chose to hew the longest pieces from logs 30’long and greater. The saw tracks from circular mills imprint large arcs across the faces of the timber. These are easily distinguished from those left by the up and down mills. Finding barns that include timbers exhibiting curved saw marks indicates they were built after the Civil War.

Squaring up the timber, whether by hand or with a sawmill, is of course only the first step in building a timber-framed barn. The next step the master builder took was to begin the process of "laying out" the joinery. Since timber framing is a system of building with wooden timbers held together with wooden pegs or connections (joinery), nearly every piece of wood in the frame needs to have mortices and tenons laid out and cut into it. The care and accuracy with which this work was done was not only the mark of a fine craftsman, but an important part of insuring all the hundreds of parts of the timber frame would fit together properly on raising day. To the lay person this appears an amazing feat indeed, but generations of timber framers have refined and passed on the knowledge that makes it all a system that could be easily repeated from one barn frame to the next.

Laying out timbers has evolved as framing systems and conversion methods have changed, and learning how to read the information left behind by the timber framers who built Ohio’s barns can be quite enjoyable and enlightening. The information comes in various forms that begin to make sense when one learns to think like a barn builder. This might appear to be a challenge, but the methods used by early timber framers were both logical and direct. Once you begin to understand the logic, the evidence left by the builder is not difficult to interpret.

In the late I8th and early 19th Centuries building a large wooden barn was of course, very challenging. The builder’s approach to meeting this challenge was to make things work as simply as possible. There were no tape measures, power tools or even drawings, so the builder had to employ methods and patterns that worked with primitive tools, were easy to understand and communicate, and still produced joinery cut to very exacting tolerances. The process wasn’t made any easier by the fact that the hewn timbers were often irregular in both size and shape. To overcome these defects the builder used a system that involved stacking the timbers to be cut one on the other in such a way that if you looked straight down on top of them it would look like the section of the frame he was trying to build. The frame, of course, would be stood up after it was pegged together. During the stacking process he would carefully level each timber in both directions so that he could use a "plumb" and a divider to transfer the information he needed to lay out the mortices and tenons from one timber to the next. In so doing he could "scribe" each joint to fit exactly, even if the timbers were odd sizes and shapes. This process was known as "scribe rule" layout.

The individual interested in studying Ohio’s historic timber barns need not learn the intricacies of scribe rule, but should be able to understand why barns built in this way are easy to identify. This method of cutting timbers makes each piece unique, meaning it can only fit in the location for which it was scribed. Thus, it was necessary for the timber framer to mark the timbers with carpenter or "marriage" marks so that the timbers could be set aside before the raising, and be correctly located again or "married" during construction. These marks most often look like Roman numerals, but may include arcs and triangles to help the framer find the piece in three dimensions. The marriage marks are usually cut in pairs at the locations of the joints, but are sometimes actually scribed across the connection so they only are complete when the frame is assembled. Typically they are cut with chisels or a race knife which had a blade formed to a "V" shape at the tip.

Scribe rule barns are not very common in Ohio, but do represent some of the earliest barns. The reason for their rarity is a change in the way barns were laid out that began around 1800 in New England, and spread to Ohio by the 1820’s. This new system called "square rule" layout, did not require stacking the timbers in mock assemblies to align the joinery. Instead the carpenter would snap "chalk lines" on the faces of the hewn timbers that indicated where a smaller timber would be placed inside it. In this way he could work all of the timbers to a known size by removing the wood at the joints that was beyond the chalk line. The fact that each timber only had to be handled once meant much less work was involved, so the new system quickly replaced the old. Another advantage to square rule was that the standard frame patterns it produced, used pieces that were identical or "standardized" and the use of carpenter’s marks was quickly eliminated.

Identification of square rule framed barns is straight forward since the timbers have housings at the connections. Housing is the term timber framers used to describe the area of wood removed from the morticed timber back to the chalk line. This area is typically sized to match the tenoned timber. It also becomes obvious, once a square rule barn is discovered, that there are no marriage marks. The standardized patterns used in the square rule system meant common parts like braces and wall girts were often interchangeable and larger parts could be easily identified by the joinery they contained. Finding a square rule barn means it cannot be earlier than 1800 and is probably newer than 1820.

One last change occurred in the way timber barns were built in Ohio right around the turn of the 20th Century. Although this system was not identified or named in early carpenter’s manuals, this author has chosen to identify it as "mill rule" layout. The premise of this system of layout is the assumption that the timbers supplied by the sawmill are all exactly the right size and squarely cut. In fact by the turn of the twentieth century, sawmills were very precise, barn framing patterns had changed and hewing timbers was no longer necessary. Ohio’s road system had improved considerably so transporting timbers relatively long distances was quite practical.

At first glance, mill rule and scribe rule barns look similar. They have simple mortice and tenon joints with no housings. In Ohio, however, all scribe rule barns were built with hewn timber and mill rule barns are built completely of circular sawn timber. Mill rule barns are also most often quite tall because beginning around 1880 the hay track began to be used for loading hay into the mows. This meant that much taller hay stacks could be created and barns were constructed from then until the end of timber frame barn construction, around WWI, to accommodate these tall stacks. Identifying a barn as mill rule means it was built in the very late 19th or early 20th Century.

Barn Conservation

An undeniable truth about Ohio's barns is that many have been lost. Even a short trip down most rural roadways reinforces the fact that many more will be lost in the years to come. As stated earlier, the reasons for this ongoing attrition are numerous and understandable, but the ways and means needed to save them are much less obvious. Part of the reason this is true is a general lack of understanding of barns and their needs. For the most part barns seem to take care of themselves and due to their massive nature appear almost indestructible. This unfortunately is far from true.

Jim Askins, the creator of the National Preservation Training Center, once said "There are three things that will destroy a building: water, water and water." This is true for barns more than any other building. Since barns are built for storage and housing animals, not people, many times water getting into them goes unnoticed for long periods, as does the damage it causes. More often than not the damage has become extensive before any attention is given to it and far too often the costs involved in repairing this serious damage are considered prohibitive by the barn's owner. Had the problem been detected early, a remedy would likely have been simple and inexpensive.

The first step in conserving Ohio's barns is to understand what their maintenance requirements are. Barns are basically large open storage buildings. Depending on their age, they are likely to have had their roof coverings and siding repaired or replaced, repairs made to their foundation, and had significant modifications or additions done. These "improvements" were often done by craftsmen with lower skill levels than the barn's original builder, or with a general lack of understanding of historic building techniques. At best this complicates proper building maintenance and at worst it accelerates the decline of the structure.

Foundations and Sills

Most historic barns were constructed using stone for their foundations. Early ground level barns were often built with single large stones at the corners and post locations, while some had rough dry-laid stone walls around their perimeter. A common problem with these foundations is the close proximity of the sill timbers to the soil. Very often the problem is made worse by the ground level around the barn being raised by the slow accumulation of sediment and manure. This condition inevitably causes the sills to deteriorate. Replacement normally is not difficult, unless the barn has had additions or major modifications.

It is common to find makeshift repairs done in barns that have suffered sill deterioration. One such "fix" is pouring concrete along the front edge of the drive bay (where the main barn doors are) or threshing floor allowing equipment access where the sill is missing. The unfortunate result is accelerated rot of the timbers that are in contact with the concrete due to moisture being trapped. The correct repair in this situation is to replace the sill with a rot resistant material such as white oak. Sill replacement is accomplished by "jacking and cribbing" the barn. The jacking is usually done with steel beams which are then cribbed up with stacks of wooden beams called "blocking". In the photo to the right, a ground barn is cribbed up and ready for sill and or foundation repair.

Problems of Posts

Another common problem, closely related to sill deterioration is rot at the bottoms of posts. This can be caused by rot in the sill traveling into the post, but it can also be caused by water getting through damaged or missing siding and trim boards. The natural tendency of water is to flow downward and it accumulates where the post meets the sill. This causes the post to rot from the bottom up. Often this is not discovered until sill replacement is undertaken and the post bottoms are exposed showing missing tenons or hollowed out posts. Often the post appears to be intact and undamaged but is found to be rotted as far as four to five feet up on the inside depending on the age of the barn and the species of the timber. In the worst cases the post is rotted from top to bottom due to water coming in through the roof or along the eave. This condition is typically visible from inside the barn without removal of siding or connecting timbers.

Post repair or replacement is often somewhat complex. With the exception of interior posts, the timber framer will most likely have to deal with mortice and tenon connections at the top and bottom of the post, as well as connections along its length for siding girts, tie beams and braces. It is not uncommon to find eleven or twelve mortice and tenon joints in a corner post. Dealing with these connections is a matter of analyzing the situation and designing a repair well suited to it. Post bottom repairs can be done by simply stabilizing the upper part of the post and scarfing on a new section at the bottom. If the damaged area includes wall girts or braces, free tenons may be required (see photo to right). If the entire post needs to be replaced it may be necessary to jack and crib the corner of the barn which allows the walls to be spread enough to remove the post and insert a replacement.

Repair or Replacement of Plates

Often the most difficult repairs to accomplish in historic barns are the repair or replacement of the wall plates where the rafters meet the wall frame. Unfortunately this is a common area of failure in historic barns where roofs have been allowed to leak for extended periods of time. Most timber frame barns have rafter connections that incorporate a rafter "seat". The cutting of the rafter seat joint typically involves the removal of a portion of wood on the top of the plate timber creating a perfect place for water to collect. The trapped water causes rotting commonly not detected until the plate has suffered severe deterioration. To make matters worse, the rot often extends into the rafters themselves and can travel into the posts, braces and tie beams that are connected to the plates.

Plate repair involves lifting sections of roof frame in order to allow the damaged timber to be removed and the repair timber to be inserted. Depending on the frame type this can be a predictable and controllable procedure or a precarious and dangerous one. The problem comes in how the loads are being transferred from the rafters to the frame.

In large barns the rafters are supported by timbers called purlins. These horizontal timbers typically are placed midway between the wall plate and the ridge. In early barns it is common for these purlins to be supported by vertical posts that transfer the load of the roof into the tie beams. The figure above shows this type of frame. Provided the roof frame has not been modified, the rafters will be "birds mouthed" at the purlins which provides a stable connection. If however the "straining beams" have been removed (a common practice when hay tracks were added) the frame may require stabilization before the work proceeds.


Knowing if and when, let alone how, to repair or replace barn siding is often beyond the scope of the barn's steward. Some basic understanding of what to look for can be an important part of knowing when to call the carpenter of choice. Failing paint on wooden barn siding is rarely more than a cosmetic issue. This is because painting a barn usually involves little if any caulk due to the limited number of trimmed openings and the fact that sealing a barn against moisture transfer is not common. Rather, barns are normally designed to allow outside and inside air to move back and forth freely to aid in removing the moisture produced by livestock and feed. The one exception to failing paint being of little significance to maintenance is when paint begins to fail in a specific area, while the surrounding areas seem fine. This may indicate a leak is allowing water to find its way into the barn and the siding is getting wet from inside. This should be investigated and the problem remedied immediately.

Problems of Siding and Roofing

Being able to see light coming through siding may not be of any importance either. Many barns have been sided with green siding intentionally. When the siding boards shrink during drying, minor gaps appear along the edges that actually allow ventilation. Large areas of light, however, probably indicate something more. Larger openings (more than 1/4") can allow wind blown rain to enter and saturate timbers inside the barn. These openings need to be investigated. In some cases timbers may have moved due to damage at the joinery. In others, siding boards may become loose due to nails rusting or siding girts rotting. Often siding is "pushed" off the barn inadvertently while loading hay or moving equipment. These types of situations may or may not be within the scope of the owner, but need to be remedied expediently none the less.
Roofing failures are typically well beyond the capabilities or willingness of barn owners to undertake. In most cases this is a good situation. It is just as important, however, that the person chosen to do the work is well experienced and equipped. Again, the barn owner must be the sentry to prevent roof damage from causing expensive damage to the barn's structure. There are several types of roofing commonly found on barns. The oldest common roofing is wooden shakes, but in Ohio it is rare to see shakes on a barn except from the inside where they still show after being covered with a new roof that is usually metal. Shake roofs are nearly impossible to repair. If a barn still has a shake roof and it is leaking, it should be replaced immediately.

Metal roofs come in two forms in Ohio. The earliest, and still the highest quality metal roofs, are "standing seam" that are installed using concealed fasteners. These roofs can easily last 100 years, but do require repainting from time to time. The appearance of rust on a standing seam roof should not be ignored for any length of time. It will quickly penetrate the metal and weaken the roof, as well as shorten its life. When rust begins to show it's time to have the roof repainted with a paint designed specifically for that purpose. If the roof has been left rusting for years, it may have to be replaced. The other type of metal roof commonly found in Ohio is the exposed fastener or "ag panel" roof. These come in corrugated as well as ribbed patterns and are usually a lighter gauge than standing seam. Because they are thinner, and the fact that the exposed fasteners can fail, these types of roofs are more prone to blow off in high winds. Any loose or missing panels should be immediately taken care of, but first the wooden slats or skip sheathing should be inspected for damage or rot and repaired.

Slate roofs are the most beautiful barn roofs in our state. Often they are decorated with dates and names as well as images of farm animals. When slate roofs are installed the barn's steward has chosen the best roof money can buy, but unfortunately this doesn't always translate into a long lived roof. The reason for this is slate roofs require regular maintenance. Unlike manufactured metal or shingle roofs, slates are made from quarried stone that often has unseen defects. These defects include minor fractures that may cause a slate to fail and slide off the roof. This can also be caused by movement in the barn, and more often by an uneducated roofer walking on the slates. Every slate that gets stepped on will be broken. The barn owner should inspect the roof every spring to see if the snow has dragged off any broken slates. It is also important to inspect areas where valleys are formed by the addition of straw sheds. These are often metal that rusts out after 80-100 years. These problems can easily be repaired by a roofer with experience in such work.

Asphalt or composition shingle roofing is more typically found on houses than barns in Ohio. Shingles are not well suited to high wind areas like barn roofs. They are also quite heavy and require a solid wooden nailing surface, which most barns do not have. The weight of a shingle roof can also cause damage to a timber frame barn. Since the frame members were most likely sized for a much lighter roof such as metal or shakes, the added weight can cause premature failing. For these reasons we do not recommend putting composition shingles on barns. We would also recommend their removal, if they are at the end of their useful life, and replacement with a more suitable material. Unfortunately, they will most likely end up in a landfill since they are so difficult to recycle.

Foundations and Basements

The final areas of significance in barn conservation are the foundation and basement areas. Since older barn foundations are stone, repairing them is well outside the barn owner's area of expertise and is likely to be something most masons are not prepared to deal with. This is due to a basic change in the way masonry work is done since the widespread use of Portland cement-based mortars began. Portland cement-based mortar is much easier to use than historic lime mortars and is actually significantly stronger. Unfortunately this is not a good thing when laying up or repointing sandstone foundations. Since the mortar is harder than the stone, repointing usually leads to the faces of the stones being sheared off during seasonal cycling. A bigger problem is when loosened or dislodged stones are re-bedded with Portland mortar .The eventual result is often concentrated loads causing the large foundation stones to break.

There are many variations in barn shapes and types, as well as many different types of additions and modification that have been made to them in the century or more of their use. Although these changes can complicate the maintenance and repair of barns, the same basic principle of conservation applies. Barns require maintenance. Good stewardship of a barn that is well maintained is a simple matter of looking for problems and taking care of them when they are discovered. Saving a barn that has suffered from neglect can be a greater challenge, but the rewards of saving one of Ohio's great symbols are endless.

New Interest in Barns

Conserving Ohio's historic barns is obviously a matter of good stewardship. Barns that are still in use have a much greater chance of survival than those that are not, but farming methods have changed greatly since the 19th century, and many barns are no longer considered worth maintaining. Keeping these barns from being lost will either require support from community or governmental agencies or a change in perception by their owners as to their value. Neither of these goals is easily accomplished.

Governmental sources of funding are slow in coming but some states have realized the importance and significance of their barns and have established grant programs for barn conservation. New York State began a program in 2000 that made $2,000,000 available for barn repairs. The program was set up on an application basis and roughly 50 barns are selected each year to receive funds based on their needs. Program administrator Randy Nash soon realized the dilemma created by the program. Although many more applications were received than could be accepted, finding the qualified contractors needed to do the repairs was impossible. Many of the original repair grants have yet to be fulfilled.

A similar form of legislation which passed at a federal level in 2002 also met a roadblock. Although the Historic Barn Preservation Program was accepted as part of the Farm Bill, the $25,000,000 it made available has yet to be funded. If this funding were to become available it would be distributed through State Historic Preservation Offices and statewide non-profit organizations established with a focus on barn conservation. Many states have seen the establishment of these types of "grass roots" organizations. These include the New York State Barn Coalition, Michigan Barn Preservation Network and Friends of Ohio Barns. These types of organizations provide information through newsletters, workshops and conferences to barn owners as well as barn lovers about the history of barns and barn types as well as barn lore and maintenance guidelines.

On a national level the National Trust for Historic Preservation sponsored its first "barn tour" during the National Preservation Conference held in 2002 in Cleveland. The sold out bus tour visited several barns throughout Geauga County including a working Amish farm still using the barn to support their horse powered farming operation. Another successful program focused on barns is the The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

If Ohio's beautiful barns are to survive as a symbol of our great agricultural heritage, some basic changes have to occur. These changes can happen at many levels from owner awareness to state budget line items, but nothing will happen without public interest and support. The steady decline and loss of the barn as a symbol of Ohio does not have to be inevitable, but if it goes unchecked we will no longer have to suffer looking at barns collapsing along our roadways. They will all be gone.