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Old Gem gets New Lease on Life

Mantua – According to the 2007 National Agricultural Statistics Service census, only 662,264 barns built before 1960 remain across the country. In our area, a rare gem built in 1820 has been removed, but thanks to a local man, won’t be lost or forgotten. The nearly 200-year-old gem, which once stood in front of the Green Family Funeral Home in Mantua, is in the process of being rebuilt for reuse roughly two miles from where it formerly stood.

When Mr. David Green, president & owner of Green Family Funeral Home, was investigating options to enhance the property where his business resides, he determined that the space occupied by the barn could be better utilized for other purposes. As such, last winter, Green accepted sealed bids for the purchase and removal of the historic barn, which came into his ownership in 1995. He received several bids, many of which entailed deconstructing the old beauty and selling off her valuable hand hewn timbers.

The barn was originally erected in 1820 by Frank Hammel as a part of what is known locally as the Hammel homestead on State Route 44. The Hammel brick home had a long history as a stagecoach stop.  The historic barn, which was originally part of that property, sat west of the home, on the east side of State Route 44, on property owned by the Green Family Funeral Home. Green appreciated the historical significance of the structure, and wanted it to remain in one piece. He stated, “It was important for me to see that the building would be restored at another location.”

Enter Hiram resident, home construction & renovation guru Dale Tomasek. His business, Cornerstone Construction, offers home construction, renovation, and repair that focus on sustainable building science.  In each project, Tomasek looks for ways to reduce costs associated with energy use and maintenance costs. A key component of that process is the re-use of materials whenever possible. So when Tomasek heard about the potential sale of the barn through a friend last winter, he and his family were intrigued.

Tomasek and his wife Jennifer Ray-Tomasek were at the tail end of a five-year renovation and restoration project on the 1860’s era farmhouse where they now live in Hiram. At one point, a barn had stood at that property, but all that remained were the remnants of silo bases. As a part of Tomasek’s offer to Green, he outlined his desire to deconstruct the Hammel barn and reassemble it for use on that location on his Pioneer Trail property.
Favoring this plan, Green awarded the bid for the barn to Tomasek.  In March 2013, Tomasek began with the painstaking project of removing the slate from the barn’s roof, piece by piece.  In all, about 2,000 slates have been successfully removed and preserved, with the intention of re-use once the barn is  assembled.  With assistance from good friends and some borrowed equipment, Tomasek has managed to pull down siding and take down the barn beams piece by piece, preserving all that can be re-used.

“It’s been really hard work but it’s a labor of love for Dale who is passionate about preserving and reusing materials whenever possible,” beams Ray-Tomasek. “Our hope is to have the structure up and protected by the time snow flies this year. We’re really excited about the prospect of having a hand in the great history old barn,” she continues. “Dale and I see ourselves as simply ‘stewards’ for this structure. It’s our job, now, to continue its life and ensure that it will stay standing for perhaps another 200 years!”

Keep watching the Villager for the unveiling of the new and improved historic barn by the Tomasek family, estimated some time this winter. For more information on Dale Tomasek’s other construction and renovation projects, visit www.CornerstoneHomeConstruction.com.

Stacy Turner is a wife, mother, and contributing reporter who has lived in the Mantua/Hiram area for over a dozen years. After enjoying a career in marketing, where she spent her time writing on behalf of other people, she gets a kick out of writing under her own name. Mostly, she enjoys the opportunity to learn more about her community through the stories she covers.

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