A barn that's been described as a "Delaware County treasure" will be a focal point of a 233-acre park being developed in Orange Township by Preservation Parks of Delaware County.
One of Ohio’s 88 bicentennial barns – painted with logos leading up to the 200th anniversary of Ohio’s statehood in 2003 – and a half-acre it sits on were donated to Preservation Parks by Bob and Sue Postle, the parks district said.
The barn sits at 6824 Bale Kenyon Road, visible from Interstate 71.
An accompanying 37-acre site was purchased from the Postles for $1,486,313, a press release said. A grant from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation program covered $1,086,551 of the cost, with the rest coming from parks-district funds.
Beth McCollam, Preservation Parks communications manager, said parkland is still being acquired, and the Preservation Parks Foundation will lead a capital campaign to restore the barn as a year-round rental facility.
She said conceptual planning for the park will begin this year. A timetable for its opening has not been set, nor does the park yet have a name.
Preservation Parks executive director Tom Curtin said reforestation has begun on land acquired so far, with 32,000 tree seedlings and 833 larger trees in the ground.
The new park will have trails, picnic areas, locations to drop canoes and kayaks into Alum Creek, and other amenities, the press release said.
Bob Postle said the farm has been in his wife's family since 1812.
The Ohio Bicentennial Commission paid to have the bicentennial logo painted on a barn in each of Ohio's 88 counties.
All the barns were painted by Scott Hagan of Jerusalem, Ohio.
Not all of the barns have survived, Hagan said, but some -- including Delaware County's -- have achieved iconic status.
The local barn "is one of the most recognizable as far as that goes," he said, adding its proximity to the freeway helps.
"People seem to know about that barn," he said.
Hagan was 19 years old in 1997 when his father let him paint the family barn.
Hagan chose a design featuring Ohio State University's Block "O" and Brutus Buckeye.
That painting attracted wide attention after it was featured in a newspaper story, Hagan said.
That story, he said, helped to convince the bicentennial commission to launch the barn-painting campaign, abandoning an earlier idea to post billboards around the state.
Hagan started painting bicentennial barns in 1998 and estimated the Delaware County barn was painted in 1999 or 2000.
He repainted it three years ago, he said. At one time, it was illuminated at night -- an idea he said Preservation Parks might want to revive.
The barn project turned into a career for Hagan. He now paints one or two barns or buildings a week across the United States.
His favorite design, he said, is the U.S. flag.
Another popular design is Mail Pouch Tobacco barns; at one time, 20,000 barns in 22 states had such paint jobs.
The Mail Pouch barns are "such an icon. People love that," he said.
Hagan recently painted the likeness of Delaware native Rutherford B. Hayes on a barn in Fremont, home of the Hayes presidential library.
His website is barnartist.com, and he has a Facebook page.
The Postle property is the fourth of five phases of land acquisition for the park, McCollam said.
In the first two phases, tracts of 48 and 64 acres were purchased from Margorie McCammon. The third phase was another 38 acres purchased from the Postles. The purchase of 54 acres in the final phase is not yet finalized.
"We may seek grant funding to supplement the cost of the land purchase," McCollam said.
Apart from its location in southern Delaware County, the land appealed to Preservation Parks because of its healthy streams and sections of mature woodlands, Curtin said.
"We sincerely thank Bob and Sue (Postle) for their generous donation," Curtin said in the press release. "We know the barn will be an important feature of the new park we are planning."
He added that both Sue Postle and Margorie McCammon are members of the extended McCammon family, which has owned the property for decades.
"We are grateful for the McCammon family's willingness to allow the park district to seek funding and acquire the property piece by piece," Curtin said. "Their vision -- that this former farmland could be a park -- will be appreciated by all the area residents, who will be able to enjoy a beautiful piece of nature in the midst of development."
Preservation Parks currently oversees nine Delaware County parks and three trails. A 10th park, Hickory Woods Park, is slated to open in the fall between Pollock and Braumiller roads at the southeast corner of the city of Delaware The 115-acre park will have trails, a wildlife habitat, a four-seasons shelter, a smaller open-sided picnic shelter, a sledding hill, and an event field for park programs and public use.