Historic barn on the move
Bob Schnabel’s barn raising can’t happen without a barn razing.
The personal fitness entrepreneur drove by the old Richville barn for years without giving it much thought. Then, one day, he began to notice its deteriorated state and wondered if the owner would sell.
“Being across the street from me (on Richville Drive), it’s always intrigued me,” said Schnabel, president and CEO of FitnessQuest.
Schnabel bought the historic octagonal barn from Mark Christman last month and is in the process of disassembling it so that it can be refurbished and rebuilt on his property.
On Tuesday, a crew of Amish workers began to remove the beams of the walls and cone-shaped roof.
All that’s left now are the sandstone foundation blocks, and those soon will be removed and reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle on Schnabel’s land.
Although some have called the project “Bob’s folly,” Schnabel is serious about rescuing and restoring the historic barn. Without his efforts, the barn would eventually collapse, he said.
When all is said and done, Schnabel expects his investment, including purchase price, to total $250,000.
“I’m trying to restore it to as close to its original state as possible. It’s truly a piece of art,” Schnabel said. “It’s a piece of Americana.”
The Richville barn dates back to at least 1880, according to Schnabel’s research. The old farm house across the street predates it by about 10 years.
Schnabel has a wooden board from the barn with writing on it that includes the date “1888.”
The barn went through several owners until Earl Camp bought the farm in 1929, Schnabel said. Camp’s son, Glenn, was born the following year and has assisted Schnabel with his historic research.
A 1946 photo shows a 16-year-old Glenn Camp sitting on a tractor in front of the eight-sided barn.
The barn’s next owner was St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Canton, which bought it in 1962 and turned it into a meeting house called “The Barn.”
Around the same time, Perry Local Schools purchased 9.6 acres of the Camp farm for the construction of P.J. Lohr Elementary School.
At 50 feet high and 60 feet wide, the barn is a bit of a local oddity that hasn’t seen much use recently. Its dark basement is home to bats and birds but not much else.
Schnabel said he’s intrigued with the barn’s history and construction, but he’s also looking forward to using when it’s reassembled.
Every beam and post is numbered so that it can be put back together about a quarter-mile from where the barn originally stood. About 25 percent of the siding will have to be replaced.
“My intent is to replace them with century-old material,” he said.
A space for the barn has already been marked out on Schnabel’s 50 acres. He intends to use the structure for parties and for storage.
“I have lots of toys,” he said.
He hopes to be done with the project by the end of the summer.
In the meantime, St. Paul’s has put out a call to its members to donate any old photos, information and materials related to the barn to Schnabel.
“You look at it and you really don’t quite know what it is,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing to see.”