What do you do when you have 10 children and you live in a log cabin?
Back in 1830, Chauncey Case made a brick kiln and used the area’s abundant clay to build a proper house for his wife, Cleopatra, and their rather large family.
The couple had settled on 150 acres in 1814 with their five children and a cow in what later became Hudson Township. The house they built is said to be the first brick home west of Pittsburgh.
After 60 years, the farm grew to nearly 500 acres and required an industrial-sized barn to handle the hay and other requirements of a large-scale dairy.
Then, about 100 years after the Case family settled the land, a Case girl married a Barlow boy and the operation was under the Barlow name for the next 100 years.
The Case-Barlow legacy today is being preserved by volunteers who have restored the brick house to its antique splendor and are preparing to complete restoration of the barn next summer as a unique venue for special events.
"The barn, for years has been unused," said Charlie Robinson, one of the non-profit's trustees.
Robinson explained the structure was painted and resided last year with hemlock from Pennsylvania.
The wood was specially cut and milled for the project, which trustees say cost about $36,000.
"You used to be able to go inside the barn and see the outside," joked Ned Kendall, another trustee.
The barn, known as "Big Red," has over the past five years seen extensive renovations, including repairs to the foundation and main floor supports and flooring, new windows, doors and door repairs, along with a new roof and gutters.
"It started with just cleaning out the barn. We hauled out about 600 pounds of pigeon droppings," said Kendall. "We've applied now to the county for an occupancy permit. We would hope that next year we would be able to have functions, such as weddings."
Other functions would include business meetings, club meetings, and other events such as "farm dinners," featuring fresh, seasonal vegetables, fruits and dairy products, as well as locally raised meats.
"Farm dinners are a big thing today … this is the perfect location for that," said Trustee Linda Matty.
This month, electricians are installing lights all along the sides of the barn's interior, where massive timbers support the roof that soars 40 feet above the floor.
Though he had joked about seeing through the walls earlier, Kendall explained the reason daylight shines through gaps between the original vertical siding boards.
"This barn was used to store hay," Kendall explained. "It's supposed to be that way to allow air to circulate."
The new hemlock boards are flush, but will eventually shrink and end up with vertical gaps over time, Kendall said.
A corn crib with wooden slat walls is outside, as is an "Eleanor Roosevelt Outhouse."
"She felt that everyone on a farm ought to have a porcelain pot in their outhouse," Matty said, referring to the former First Lady, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Inside the little shed, a wooden toilet seat rests atop of a white, cylindrical pedestal.
"When you applied for it, they actually sent you a diagram on how to build it and then they sent you the porcelain pot," she said. "And this one is an original."
It's been more than 20 years since citizens led by the Hudson Heritage Association formed a 501(c)3 and purchased the last 4 acres of the original Case-Barlow farm site from the First Congregational Church of Hudson. The farm's last owner, Don Barlow, had donated the property to the church, which had been founded by pioneer David Hudson and where the Case and Barlow family had worshipped for two centuries.
The former dairy holdings ended up being sold off for development, though city voters in 1997 approved a tax levy to purchase 60 acres now known as Barlow Farm Park.
While the park features ballfields and trails, picnic tables, grills and a pavilion, the old farm house and barn are magnets for artifacts from bygone ages.
Inside are unique pieces of furniture and a glimpse back in time to when a fireplace in the main room was the evening's attraction and where farm hands hired to bring in the hay slept upstairs in separate quarters, with their own entrance and a stone sink.
Last week, Hudson High School junior Matthew Taylor spray painted electrical conduit fittings flat black as they lay on newspaper in the grass. He and fellow junior John Main have been doing volunteer work since the beginning of the summer. They're doing the work to complete the school's community service requirement, though he said they have worked many hours over the 15-hour requirement.
"It's really neat seeing how they're getting the top part of the barn ready for events," he said.
Case-Barlow Farm is a self-sustaining nonprofit, with no employees, that is run by a volunteer board of trustees and volunteers such as Taylor, who is one of many who help with the heritage site.
Matty said other volunteers, such as The Questers, helped restore the farm house to its original condition, rounded up antique furniture and other artifacts and continue support by dropping by to clean on a regular basis.
Others have helped with gardening and other work, but Case Barlow Trustees are inviting even more to pitch in. Current volunteer opportunities include writing about farm life, interviewing folks who knew the Case and Barlow families and helping with the inventory of interesting artifacts.
For more information, see www.casebarlow.com.
Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or firstname.lastname@example.org.