Knox County Barn Tour Highlights
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The Gambier Loft - 20971 Hopewell Rd.
The Gambier Loft at 20971 Hopewell Rd. sits on a bucolic property that has turned heads for decades. The Gothic Victorian home, built by William and Rebecca Smith, is well known in the area but Alan and Patricia Wolf have transformed what was already a singular but no longer farm oriented property into a business again. It wasn't really the idea, but it evolved naturally from the necessity of providing a garage and a temporary living space. It was decided that the pre-1900 three bay horse barn next to the main barn was the most likely prospect to be a garage although it was not located near the house. So, it was moved in 2006 and by 2009 transformed into an upstairs guest house with the garage on the first level. Go to www.gambierloft.com for more information on the guest house. So many beautiful and imaginative touches have transformed the upstairs from a barn to a living space that if it were not for keeping the basic barn structure inside intact and architecture visible one might never suspect it's original purpose to house animals.
Looming down the hill behind the house is the large second barn in its original state and unrestored. A area open to the public will be roped off. It is used for storage. Other outbuildings and the pond paint a classic rural scene in a rolling terrain, and the drive along Hopewell Road has many visual delights and glimpses into other well cared for farms and estates.
Mount Vernon Barn Company - 19260 Hopewell Rd.
Doug and Beth Morgan, owners of the Mount Vernon Barn Company at 19260 Hopewell Rd.
have a mission to save 100 barns and log structures. To that end they are well underway with the two barns, log house, and carriage barn that have been moved to their property. There you will also enjoy the handmade furniture made from reclaimed wood on display in the main barn.
Mount Vernon Millworks provides an opportunity for local woodworkers to use locally sourced wood to produce high quality cabinetry and furniture.
Mount Vernon Barn Company uses reclaimed, zero carbon footprint wood in many of their projects. You can find out more at
The big main barn further back from the road, the Sweitzer barn, was constructed in 1820 from massive 12x12 white oak timbers and sleepers in the lower level. The threshing floor is oak, chestnut, and walnut. See if you can identify the various woods used all over the barn. The second barn, the red barn, near the road houses the woodshop, farm memorabilia and antique tools. It was the first barn to be moved.
The Kenyon Farm - 20245 Zion Rd.
Were it not for the sign announcing the Kenyon Farm at 20245 Zion Rd in Gambier
one would never suspect that there is a productive agricultural enterprise of 11 acres beyond the drive. But chortling ducks parading across the drive greet you as you step out of the car.
"It's all about the ducks," says Steven Ring, one of the students in residence during the summer. "They are our moral center."
The Kenyon Farm is a young enterprise, just three years old, staffed by six paid students who who live there and put in around 20 hours a week. The Kenyon Farm is a part of the college's Sustainability curriculum and initiative. More information about that effort can be found at www.kenyon.edu. The students are learning first hand about farm to table eatery and local food production and are helped by many student volunteers. Self-sustainability is the principal and goal that guides what and how things are produced. Without the aid of a tractor, a variety of crops are raised chemical free for the tables of Kenyon College, the student's own kitchen at the farm, and eggs for the community. Chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, and bees are also raised over the acreage dotted by structures built by the students.
The recent construction of a solar facility placed upon the roof of the pole barn shed built in 2011 by Andrew Nisley supplies enough electricity to sell back to the grid and will be explained on the tour. The panels have dramatically reduced the electric bill. Plans are underway to use some of that electricity on the farm. The shed serves as storage for feed and equipment.
Asked about his motivation for living at the farm and working so hard, Nick Leibowitz another summer resident expressed his long standing interest in and enjoyment in the outdoors and his desire to live in a home environment instead of a dorm. "It would be nice to have a tractor though." Also on his wish list would be a greenhouse, cattle, and a dog.
Lisa Schott, Kenyon's Director of the Kenyon Farm, explained the motivation behind the project. Students of the future need to be literate not only in their studies but literate as well about their environment and their community. The Kenyon Farm grew out of the belief that a farm is a natural "living laboratory" that serves to connect the classroom with local, regional and global communities interested in sustainable practices. The farm is a student-centered program focused on experiential learning, sustainable food systems and food production. Its mission is to engage the community in a small-scale farming operation in the context of a liberal arts education and to educate all constituencies about the value of local food and the importance of agriculture in the community.
The academic side of Kenyon College also benefits from the farm in that the farm serves as an adjunct facility for class projects. The Environmental Studies, Art, Philosophy, Biology, History, and Chemistry Departments have had classes and projects there. The student's community service hours requirements can be filled at the farm.
And there are moment of hilarity along with the work. The story was related of a chicken breeding program centering on a really large aggressive rooster, a Naked Neck rooster. It was the dominant male until one day another rooster of the same breed was introduced into the yard. For a few moments the two sized each other up getting ready to settle the matter, doing their moves, when a smaller Guinea male came out from under the coop and attacked the newcomer and chased him around the yard for hours, settling who was the boss.
Raymond Weaver's Farm & Furniture - 29217 Mickley Rd.
Raymond Weaver, owner of the classic gambrel roofed barn at 29217 Mickley Rd., saw an opportunity in the old barn on his homestead. Yes, it needed a lot of work, but yes, it had a lot of room. He wanted a showroom for his furniture business and his first choice was to build something closer to Route 62, but fortunately he chose to improve the old barn and in doing so preserved a treasure. Starting in 2003 with a new foundation, then the second floor was turned into a furniture store in 2014. The roof was insulated, a concrete floor poured on the first floor and many improvements made which transformed the interior into a refined showroom, bakery, and deli. The first floor remains unchanged, dedicated to animal husbandry, and all the stalls house a variety of animals from small to large (including a pot bellied pig who was put on a diet) for the petting zoo. More information about the store can be found at www.weaversfarmandfurniture.com.
The Lyons Barn - 28924 Mickley Rd.
A barn doesn't get more definitive than having an old Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco sign painted on the side. This is the head turning image you see as you drive up to the old Mickley barn at 28924 Mickley Road east of Danville. This family farm is now owned by third generation Marsha Mickley Lyons and her husband Lyle Lyons. Marsha relates,
"The barn was built before 1850 according to my dad. My grandfather, Edward Mickley came to Ohio from Oklahoma. He owned and farmed over 800 acres near the Mickley Road area. He raised 13 children in the Mickley homeplace just up the road. My father, Floyd Mickley was his youngest son. Mickley road used to be St Rt 62 but when they built the new highway, State Route 62, our road was named Mickley Road because Edward Mickley owned most of the farm ground surrounding the road. We raised, corn, wheat, oats, soybeans and hay. also had sheep and pigs. Our barn was used to birth lambs and store mostly hay for the farm. My father, Floyd Mickley, bought approx 200 acres from Grandpa's estate after he passed away in 1976. Floyd raised 11 children here on Mickley Road. Six of those grown children now live on Mickley Road and 2 grandchildren have also built new homes on the Mickley farm.. Lyle and Marsha Mickley Lyons now own nearly 40 acres of the original farm. We raise crop, soybeans and hay. We use the barn for our horses and hay storage. We plan to continue to try to maintain and improve the original barn but try to maintain the integrity of the old Mail Pouch if possible. Our next improvement project is to be a new standing seam metal roof for the barn. "The bank barn has part of the original sandstone foundation, half walls on the side and hand hewn beams. Original hay tracking is up in the peak under wood shingles covered by tin. Updates to two sides and the foundation have occurred since 2000. Four quarter horses occupy the first level and approximately 800 bales of hay take up the mow space.
Mickley Road used to be Route 62 before it was straightened and improved, so Mickley Road has numerous exit and entrance points along the way. The second Mickley Road exit to the right which leads into Tiger Valley Road is the easiest way to find this farm.