Tom O'Grady

Tom O’Grady, executive director of the Southeast Ohio History Center.

LOUDONVILLE — The Cleo Redd Fisher Museum in Loudonville kicks off its Spring Speaker Series on Monday, Feb. 17, with a look at the architectural legacy of barns in Ohio.

Tom O’Grady, executive director of the Southeast Ohio History Center, joins the museum to discuss how culture groups migrating from New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern states settled in various regions of Ohio, and how their distinct farms and barns still dot the landscape.

By understanding the architectural legacy of these barns, one can understand much about the heritage of that region — including influences and cultural affinities. In addition to identifying areas settled by those of Pennsylvania German descent versus migrants from the upland south, and so forth, the timber frame barns house the remnants of Ohio’s primeval forests and may provide insight into local natural history as well.

O’Grady sailed as a deck worker on an ore carrier on the Great Lakes aboard a sister-ship of the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald, surveyed for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, launched the first comprehensive curbside recycling program in the state of Ohio and has been promoting waste reduction and sustainable economy for 30 years.

O’Grady has also been an instructor of Observational Astronomy in the evenings at Ohio University for thirty years. He has spent a good deal of the past 25 years as a student of Ohio history researching its geography and settlement, the mound builders, Ohio canals, and several of its interesting characters and their stories.

O'Grady is very active in preservation and land use issues, serving as President of the board of Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area, a board member of the Friends of Ohio Barns, and President and board member of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum. He co-founded Re-Use Industries, a not-for-profit organization that develops jobs by recovering and revaluating materials from the waste stream.

Under O’Grady’s direction, the Southeast Ohio History Center has championed natural and cultural heritage in the region.

The program, “The Barnbuilders: an architectural legacy in Ohio’s rural landscape,” will be presented at 7 p.m. in the meeting hall of the CRF Museum at 203 E. Main St. in Loudonville. This event is free and open to the public. It is made possible in part by the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Anyone with questions regarding the program can contact the museum at or by calling 419-994-4050.

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