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.