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Auction at The Tremont House Block Party on August 3rd will feature four of Bob Kroeger’s paintings, representing barns in Erie and Huron Counties, to be auctioned, with proceeds benefiting both the Historical Society and Art at 106, Bellevue’s local Artists’ Guild and Gallery Shop. Erie County barns are the Pickett Cherry Barn, now dismantled, which drew customers from all surrounding states to its Portland Rd site, and on Strecker Road, the Tommas barn, a marvelous old fellow with an empty corn crib that begged to be full again, which the painting complied.  In Huron County, the Schwiefurt barn on Sandhill Road which rocked to many dancing feet over the years, and the Roeder barn on Route 20, west of Monroeville, recording its racing history as well as its farming origins. 

The Tremont House Block Party is held on North West Street and in the alley behind the Tremont House, in the center of Bellevue, from 3 to 8 p.m.  The paintings will be auctioned at 5:00, by Baker, Bonnigson Auctioneers.  Join us for the festivities! Food, live music, wine and craft beer tastings, historic displays, a beam signing in the Tremont House, and raffles round out the events of the day. 

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"Kinda Homely”  (pictured above)
On our tour of Huron County, barn scouts Mel and Judy introduced me to Debbie Schwiefert, whose brother Craig owns this old barn. The slate roof, though more expensive than traditional wooden shakes, has proven it was a good investment, having protected the barn for over a century.

According to Judy and Debbie – who were interviewed by barn scout Judy Miller – the Seibel family built it in 1912, using lumber from the adjacent woods and moving dirt to form a bank to the upper level. At the time it was the largest barn in Huron County and, even today, it still commands attention with its dimensions of 80 by 100 feet.

Craig’s grandparents, Fred and Marie Koch, bought the farm in 1941, but this story begins before that. Marie, also known as “Granny” Koch, liked to dance and would jump at the chance to go to one, especially when in a barn, as was the case with this one, which held square dances from the 1920s and well into the 1940s. Marie dated Fred’s brother initially but she couldn’t resist Fred’s invitation to barn dances and often would say that “Fred was kinda homely but he took me to all the barn dances, and I loved to dance.” See, there’s more than one way to win a girl’s heart.

Fred and Marie owned The Red and White grocery store in Sandusky for several years but they didn’t like being in that business and began saving their money to buy a farm. One day, by chance, Marie visited the Seibel family and learned that they were about to lose their farm to the auction block for failing to pay taxes, which sadly was not unusual coming out of the1930s and its Great Depression. So, without consulting Fred and realizing a good deal, Marie wrote a check and bought the farm. Fred found out later. As Debbie admitted, “Everyone knew who wore the pants in the family.” And, she wore those pants for a long time, passing away at age 106.

Whereas the Seibels used horses to farm – the old fashioned way of the 1800s – Fred used a tractor, which was much more efficient. His first one was a 1942 Allis Chalmers and his next one, a 1948 model, is still in the barn. His farm prospered, though he stopped farming in the 1960s.

But times changed and the square dances in the barn gave way to Halloween parties that drew hundreds of visitors over the years. After all, haunted barns can be scary! And, even though the barn stores only an old tractor, it remains important to the family, many of whom live close by. They hope that someone will dismantle it and re-build it somewhere. That, of course, is a costly project, but, if it should happen, I’m sure it would bring a smile to Granny Koch’s lips, if she were still around.

For more information on artist Robert Kroeger, go to