A wonderful “historical” event will take place at the Muhlhauser Barn on Wednesday, September 29,2021. A collection of paintings created by Dr. Robert Kroeger will be on display representing Ohio’s historical barns – 88 to be exact. The event is called “A Tribute to Historic Barns of Ohio: 88 Counties, 88 Paintings, 88 Essays”. The paintings will be auctioned off and the money given to local charities and the Historical Society.
The event is sponsored by West Chester Township and the Union Centre Boulevard Merchant Association (UCBMA) and will start at 11:00 am and end at 8:00pm. Food trucks and beer booths will be on-site to help make the day a fun-filled learning experience.
Dr. Kroeger will speak at the top of each hour for a few minutes about his work and share his experience crisscrossing Ohio, visiting all 88counties to find barns, make sketches, explore the barns’ history, write an essay, and finally, to make a painting of the old barn. He will also sign copies of his book, ‘HISTORIC BARNS IN OHIO’, recently published by the History Press, which is available in bookstores and online and will be for sale at this event. The book includes a barn and its’ story from each Ohio county and features Muhlhauser barn as the selection from Butler County!
So how did Dr. Kroeger become a painter and barn enthusiast? He grew up in a suburb of Youngstown, OH and after graduating from Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry, he served four years in the U. S. Navy, ending with the rank of lieutenant commander. Returning to Ohio in 1977, he and his late wife, Brenda, settled in Cincinnati where they raised five children and he practiced general dentistry until he retired in 2010.
Dr. Kroeger’s hidden artistic ability began to emerge (he’s a second-generation artist) when, on a trip with his second wife, to a rural bed-and-breakfast in Licking County in September 2012, he spotted a small, gray, dilapidated barn that seemed to speak to him. From his book “Then it came: a strong message, almost as if a thunderbolt struck me between the eyes: You’re going to do an oil painting of this barn, write an essay about it and preserve early Ohio history.”
And so it began! He embarked on a new career as a painter using the impasto method of oil painting and used knives rather than brushes to create his works of art. He connected with historical societies, 4-H units, barn aficionados and non-profits around the state to locate barns in every county. He then “hit the road” traveling to many of the barn locations where he discovered each’s unique history, took pictures, and made sketches.
In Dr. Kroeger’s book, you can sense his fondness for our very own Muhlhauser Barn. Muhlhauser Barn is an example of an old barn that was saved! Originally built in 1881 in Cincinnati on a farm where grains were raised for nineteenth-century breweries in downtown Cincinnati, the barn represents early German heritage in the region and their beer making skills! The barn was disassembled and reassembled in West Chester in 2008 and has become a “crown jewel” for both public and private activities and events.
Dr. Kroeger’s detailed essay on the history of the Muhlhauser Barn can be found as a post on his Facebook page “The Historic Barn Project” at https://www.facebook.com/historicbarnproject/posts/152438623348804
Spectrum News 1 did a nice mini documentary about Dr. Kroeger’s work. It’s less than 5-minutes long and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRmX7aPbq8I
You can find out more about Dr. Kroeger on his website at https://www.robertkroeger.com/
Mark your calendars and plan to attend this fun, educational event to learn more about Ohio’s rich history of early settlers and how they used their barns to conquer the wilderness and provide for their families.
The history of Muhlhauser Barn alone is fascinating and I’m glad that West Chester had the foresight to save and restore this historical treasure! Hope to see you there.