They were part of the historical Anna Dean Farm, which will open for public tour May 19. I wrote about the farm and the restoration of the barns in an article published April 11.
In doing so, I mentioned some of the basic details of the farm’s founder — O.C. Barber — as well as what the farm meant to the community. The gist of it is that the farm was built in the early 1900s, it was world-renowned for its size and productivity and it employed a surprisingly large number of people: 250.
Altogether, the farm housed 1,000 head of milk cows, 50,000 chickens, 50,000 ducks, 300 hogs and comprised 3,500 acres. Some 225-plus farm workers tended to the livestock and field work.
But there is so much more than this, and even so much more than I wrote about. I had to choose what made it into the article, and that meant leaving out a lot of details.
You can find out more about the farm in some of the books published, including Construction of O.C. Barber’s Anna Dean Farm and America’s Match King: O.C. Barber.
You’ll learn a lot more reading those books than you will in my articles, but that is to be expected. The books contain more pictures and much more history, and they’re meant for that purpose.
You can learn even more by visiting the farm for the annual tour, May 19 at 1:30 p.m. Local historians Steve Kelleher and Bernie Gnap will fill you in on their own knowledge of the farm, which has been a project of theirs for most of their lives.
I spent two-three hours of a single day with these two men and it’s incredible how much research and time they’ve given to this farm. Bernie’s dad, Joe Gnap, was once an employee of the farm and Steve’s wife, Christine, works for a horticulture company that still uses one of the original barns for its corporate offices.
Steve and Bernie took me to lunch the day I visited, to a little Hungarian place called Al’s Corner Restaurant. It’s as simple of a place as its name, and the meals are served cafeteria-style, but the food is delicious. It’s a good place to sit and reflect on the history and culture of the area, and that’s what we did.
When I finished interviewing these two guys, I had just one problem: I had more information than I could ever use in one newspaper article. So, I solved the problem — partly — by writing two articles.
But there was still a lot that didn’t get included. If you care to find out more, get your hands on one of the 10 or so books published on the farm. And put the date May 19 on your calendar. Plan to be in Barberton to see something very different and very special.
In the meantime, here is another look at some of the pictures I took on my visit. From the minute I drove up to the first barn — the 330-foot-long piggery — I knew I was in for a treat. I had to search for words to describe what I was seeing, because it was unlike any barn or farm I had ever seen. If you look at some of these pictures, I think you’ll see why!