If you’ve driven anywhere in Ohio, you’ve probably seen them. Most are white or red, and a couple structures are unpainted. They are different shapes and various designs and have different owners. What they have in common, however, is the bright “Ohio’s Bicentennial 1803 ♥ 2003” emblem painted on the sides. They’re Ohio’s Bicentennial Barns.
Beginning seventeen years ago, and five years before Ohio’s bicentennial, artist Scott Hagan painted 88 barns, one in every county of the state. According to the Ohio Bicentennial Commission’s final report, he traveled in the neighborhood of 65,000 miles and used 650 gallons of paint. The report describes the program as “an inexpensive, grassroots marketing campaign that painted the logo on a highly visible historic barn in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.” It goes on to say that the project attracted national media coverage and that, “in 2000, the barn painting program was awarded a national Bronze Anvil award for Creative Tactics by the Public Relations Society of America.”
Scott Hagan painted his final barn logo in 2002, ending with the Sandusky County barn which is located on the county fairgrounds. All but one of the barns is still standing; the Ottowa County barn owned by Albert Apling was destroyed by a tornado in 1998. Happily, you can still become a “barn groupie” (yes, that is a real thing!) and visit the other 87 bicentennial barns. The Ohio Bicentennial Commission’s final report lists the locations of each barn, including the addresses and names of owners.
Cold winter weather doesn’t have to stop you from getting outdoors. Hop into your heated car, plug an address into your GPS, and visit one or more of these amazing barns. And don’t forget to tell us about your travels!
Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!