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.
Loramie Township “Ready for the Combine”
This large barn – unusually big for a pre-Civil War barn and resplendently full of rustic hand-hewn timber framing, was probably built in the 1840s … or even before that. According to Judie Gaerke, current owner with her husband Jason, a lumber mill was located about two miles away, circa 1842. The present farmhouse encloses a two-story log cabin, possibly built by the original farmer, which is one of the oldest extant buildings in Shelby County. The earliest recording for the property was on Nov. 1, 1841, when John McFarland purchased the land through the land office in Chillicothe, provided by President James Polk for his service as a private in the War of 1812.
Judie told us that her parents, Stephen and Bonnie York, currently farm corn and soybeans and that Jason and Judie and their five children raised free-range chickens on this farmstead in Loramie Township.
“A sturdy metal roof and gray shingles on the barn’s siding offer excellent protection, although their color isn’t the original red, which Judie wanted me to include in the painting. I obliged: I like to paint the barn as it once was, if possible,” said Kroeger.
The farm passed from Stephen Francis to Fred and Flora Francis. In 1955 Judie’s grandparents, Benjamin and Hilda York purchased it. Since the barn was in bad shape, the family put on a new metal roof and siding, re-squared the structure, poured a new foundation on the exterior of the building, and added a lean-to and a dairy parlor. Benjamin and Steve ran a dairy in the barn up until 1996.
In 2008 Stephen and Bonita York bought the farm and then Jason and Judie Gaerke acquired half of the farm with the barn on it. Judie said that they are in the process of purchasing the adjoining land to return the farm to its original 80 acres. Judie also told us that they’re in the process of building new barn doors so that they can house a combine. Such huge farm machines can reach a height of nearly 14 feet. According to Judie, the combine will clear the new entrance by six inches. Whew! Most old barns can’t do this; so it’s refreshing to see an owner become creative enough to give an old barn a new purpose. Hopefully it will serve the Gaerkes for many more years.
Paintings on display
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.
For more information, contact the Shelby County Historical Society, 937-498-1653 or [email protected]