In the decade since property owners across Ohio allowed their barns to become canvases to celebrate the state's bicentennial, some of those wall-size logos have faded, others have been repainted and still others have vanished altogether.
There aren't any records of what has become of each of the 88 barns -- one in each county -- adorned with the bicentennial logo, but Stephen George, the executive director of the Ohio Bicentennial Commission, said they never were intended to last forever.
The barns were "completely ephemeral," he said, "kind of like holiday ornaments displayed at the time of the celebration." The barn owners were under no obligation to keep the logo or the barn after the bicentennial year, George said. Barn painting was a "homespun" marketing campaign that was cost-effective, George said. Each barn cost about $1,500 to paint at a time when renting a billboard for a month would have cost about $2,000, he added.
Drivers on I-71 still can catch a glimpse of Bob and Sue Postle's bicentennial barn in Lewis Center. There, the bicentennial logo has faded and chipped against the red wooden planks.Mr. Postle, 68, estimated that the barn is about 100 years old and said it has been in his wife's family since it was built. The bicentennial logo added even more to the barn's character, he said. " The barn is something special."
Some bicentennial barn owners, such as Bob and Donna Clady, have had the logo repainted. The Cladys' barn, which sits along Rt. 4 in Union County north of Marysville, was the "halfway point" -- the 44th barn to be painted in the state. The barn was signed by former Gov. Bob Taft, who attended the barn-painting reception. Mr. Clady, 60, said Taft also helped paint part of the logo.
Mr. Clady and his cousin Gerald Shultz, 81, who owns the Marion County barn about 15 minutes away, don't plan to tear them down or paint over the logo.
"Not as long as I'm alive," Shultz promised.
Most of the other bicentennial barns in central Ohio also still show their logos. Donna and James Brown had the logo repainted on their Fairfield County barn last summer. The logos on the barns in Madison and Pickaway counties have weathered but are still visible.
The Franklin County barn that once showed the bicentennial logo to drivers on Rt. 161 has reverted to a blank slate. The barn was owned by the New Albany Co. in 2003. Now, painted a plain white all over, it is the property of Limited Brands founder Leslie H. Wexner. A representative of the New Albany Co. said she didn't know when the logo was covered over.The barns were painted by Scott Hagan, of Jerusalem in Monroe County, starting in Belmont County in 1998.
The Bicentennial Commission spotted Hagan's work in a small local newspaper in Belmont County, which featured his barn painting of an Ohio State University Block O. Hagan, now 36, was just 19 when the commission asked him to paint the 88 barns. Since then, his barn-painting career has taken off, he said, and he also paints gymnasium floors and murals.
"It's great to know I was a part of a project like that," he said recently.
George hopes the lingering logos cause people to recall some of their fond memories of the bicentennial, he said."They are really reflective of a moment in time."
(c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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