Bicentennial Barn Project

I just landed a very cool project to renovate a Bicentennial Barn. I am so excited, why?

Well, first of all I need to explain to you that I’m not cool. This will not come as a surprise to those of you that know me. Most architects seem to have this cool demeanor. The old Lombardi “act like you’ve been there before” football reference.

When it comes to my work I get very excited and I lose all sense of professionalism (whatever that is). I’ve been known to exclaim, “Woop Woop” on my Facebook page and use a smiley face every once in a while. So, now I can tell you:

I’m so stinking excited about my most recent project!!!

I am the architect that is going to bring this 100 year old Bicentennial Barn back to life as an event center.

I’m going to share the project with you here through my blog. Hopefully you will enjoy the journey. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, successes and frustrations. I will be as honest and transparent as my ego will allow and maybe we will all learn a little something along the way.

The project began a few weeks ago while I was sitting in a seminar: Understanding Moisture Dynamics in Residential Construction. Now, don’t be jealous. I know not everyone has a job that allows them such exciting learning opportunities. (Just to prove how much of a dork I can really be, I have always secretly loved the psychrometric chart. Look it up. You might love it too.) Anyway, my phone rang so I ducked out from the back row and took the call.

It was Trish on the phone. She was at a zoning hearing the night before. She met Mary who was working on getting final zoning approval for her Montessori School (which I am the architect). Mary told Trish to be careful when choosing an Architect because they are not all the same. Then she recommended me. One of my prouder moments, if I do say so myself.

We discussed her project briefly before I got back to my seminar. I couldn’t concentrate much after that. My mind started racing. I wanted to Google the barn and find a picture of it. I wanted to visit. I wanted to walk through and touch the beams, smell the wood and experience the site. Yeah, maybe a second phone call would come first.

Because I am essentially a residential architect who occasionally crosses over to commercial to help out existing clients, or to take on awesome projects, I knew I needed help. I called a colleague with whom I collaborate. I knew I was working with the right person when I asked him if he was interested in meeting on a Saturday for this barn project and his response was, “Awesome! Sure am!”

It’s a blessing when you find motivated people to work with.

After another phone call we met at the site and I fell in love. What an amazing old building! Built as a bank barn, the horse team would pull the full wagon up the earthen ramp to unload inside on the second floor. The interior structure was designed so the team of horses could then turn around and exit the same way it came in.

Through a little research we also learned about the bicentennial barns. In 2003, Ohio chose 88 barns, one in each county, in prominent locations to paint an Ohio Bicentennial logo on. This barn is the one selected for Montgomery County. It is located on I-70 in Huber Heights. Many people in this area recognize it as it is a prominent feature on that stretch of highway. The owners have already contacted the artist and he has agreed to repaint the logo on the new barn facade.

The next week my thoughts were consumed by the barn. In a good way. Daydreaming, researching and sketching, no wonder I love my job. I met the owners, which includes their three sons, at the site to explain to them my vision for the barn. It is one of the most stressful parts of any project. Putting your idea out there without a net. Laying all of your cards on the table or exposing a soft underbelly. Here is my idea that I really hope you like… They liked it. We are on the same page. Shew.

I am so excited to get this project started. There will be many hours in documentation and coordination, and we are starting tomorrow with field measuring. I can’t wait to get to know this old beauty, measure her bones and sketch out the existing foot print. Once the existing drawings are complete, I get to begin designing. Most of it is already dancing in my head. I can’t wait to get it on to paper so I can share it with you!


As an Update to the Bicentennial Event Barn project, I am disappointed to say that it did not come to fruition.  These things happen occasionally due to variances not being approved, to zoning issues, to bank approvals and everything in between.  This blog post reminds me of the exciting, almost giddy feeling I get when starting a new project, and for that reason I am grateful. 

– Sheri


As Founder and Principal Architect of Springhouse Architects, Sheri’s mission is to lead Clients through the building process with the Clients in control and Springhouse as their guide, advocate and ally.  With over twenty years experience in Residential Architecture, Sheri brings knowledge and confidence to your custom home project.

Lisa Saldivar