SIDNEY — Robert Kroeger, of Cincinnati, created 17 Shelby County barn paintings to raise awareness for historic barn preservation in November 2021. He then donated them to the County Wide Historical Alliance as a fundraising opportunity. A 2023 calendar and note cards were created with the images of the paintings.
The Alliance has announced the paintings will be going up for auction online during the month of July.
The paintings have been on display at various community festivals and will be displayed at the Shelby County Fair at the end of July. The paintings will be located in the Bicentennial Traveling Museum that will be parked next to the Community Foundation Hall. The calendars and sets of 14 note cards will be available for sale for $15 each.
Each painting will be listed by lot number with a description. Opening bids will start at $50 and each subsequent bid will go up by $5. Bids can be made at TroyKies.hibid.com. There will be a total of 19 paintings auctioned off.
The auction will end on Friday, July 29, at 6:30 p.m. The winners of the bids are to pick up their paintings on Saturday, July 30, between 1 and 3 p.m. at the Traveling Museum inside the Shelby County Fairgrounds or arrange a pickup at a future time with the Shelby County Historical Society.
Clinton Township – “The Infirmary”
This old barn, ripe with hand-hewn timbers and built in the Civil War era, is remarkably well maintained and is the only remaining building from the original county home farm. Built mostly in the 19th century in every Ohio county, these farms served as a refuge for the elderly, poor, and mentally handicapped.
In 1866 Shelby County paid $8,500 for a 158-acre farm in Clinton Township, southwest of Sidney. The barn may have been built before that date, though it looks much the same today as it did in a photo taken around 1900. After the purchase, an existing farmhouse was used to house the unfortunates. Three years later, the county finished an impressive three-story brick building with a mansard roof, designed to hold 90. Another brick building was used for mentally challenged folks.
However, staying here was not a free lunch. Residents, as they were able, worked on the farm – or on the county infirmary as it was known then – and raised their own food, planting and harvesting crops, taking care of livestock, and doing general chores. They grew corn, wheat, oats, and soybeans and raised cattle, chickens, and hogs.
Over the years, the image of the county home changed from one for those mentally handicapped and the poor to a rest home for the elderly. In 1969 the first phase of today’s facility was completed and in the following decade the original infirmary was demolished. These days, Fair Haven, still called the County Home, has 125 beds for the elderly and offers skilled nursing care, along with many other services typical of long term care facilities. They use the barn for storage.
Though the county farm is no longer called an infirmary, its barn, once a stalwart building bustling with activity, remains as a reminder of kindness shown to those less fortunate in Shelby County.
For more information about the auction, contact the Shelby County Historical Society, 937-498-1653 or [email protected]