The 203-year-old white house that sits on Masonic Park Road is eye-catching among its modern neighbors, looking almost exactly the same as it did when it was built by Col. Joseph Barker in 1811.
Located in Devola, the house was granted its historic significance by the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 because of its distinctive architecture and the prominence of its first owner and builder, Joseph Barker.
Today, the 3,200 total square-foot house is a well-preserved version of the original home, with original doors, trimming, staircases and root cellar, all functioning under the operating Fernwood Farm.
JACKIE RUNION The Marietta Times
Kelly Lincoln, the current owner of the Col. Joseph Barker historic home in Devola, walks one of her sheep in front of her home Friday afternoon. Lincoln purchased the 1811 home in the early 2000s and has been working to restore it to its original state while running a working farm.
Submitted by the Washington County Historical Society
The 1811 home of Col. Joseph Barker in Devola, one of the earliest settlers of Marietta, in a picture taken in 1953, looks fairly consistent on the outside through the decades.
JACKIE RUNION The Marietta Times
The original front door of the Col. Joseph Barker historic home in Devola, with Barker’s original famous trimming, is one of the many aspects of the house that has been left the same throughout two centuries.
Current owner Kelly Lincoln, who has been living in the home for about a decade, has worked the land's 11 acres into a small farm for her pigs, chickens, cows and sheep, and has been hard at work "unrenovating" the home to its original state.
"I really love all the history in this home, and because I'm so interested in it I really want to bring it back to what it once was," Lincoln said. "The house is still very original, from the windows, the floors and most of the hardware."
An addition was added to the house in 1840, and in the 1950s, owners put in modern touches like carpet, closets, wallpaper and flooring, all of which Lincoln is in the process of removing.
Colonel Joseph Barker Home
1903 Masonic Park Road, Devola.
Back addition added: 1840.
Historical significance classification: Person, architecture.
Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, original root cellar.
"There is no code in place right now here that regulates the interior of historic buildings, so anything anyone wants to do to the inside can happen," said Ken Finkel from the Washington County Historical Society. "The outsides will look the same, but if someone wanted to gut the entire inside they could."
Barker, who received the property in 1795 as reward for serving in the Indian War to help settle the territory, built the house himself for his wife and eventually 10 children, along with being credited for building the Blennerhassett mansion and the Fearing House.
The credit to the house being in such good condition all these years later goes toward its changes in ownership, but also that Barker was an accomplished architect for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Committee for Washington County, in addition to being a shipbuilder.
"He was a prominent member of the community at the time, and people recognized his work," Finkel said.
The outside of the home is white, with paint that Lincoln said is just about 10 years old and needs redone. The inside, with 11-foot-high ceilings, winding wood banisters and oak floors in the kitchen, makes it hard to forget that the house belonged to an accomplished architect of the 1800s.
"The fine brick house which stands on the farm, with its recessed windows, concealed chimneys, Adams doorways and its decorated interior woodwork, reveals Barker's competence as a builder and an architect," said Rodney Hood, writing an introduction for a collection of Barker's writings in 1958.
Lincoln and her husband built a barn to hold the animals for the farm, as well as a small edition on the side of the house to hold pigs. An original oil well still sits on the farm.
"We were very careful to conserve the original home," Lincoln said. "I own it, but I really more consider myself to be its caretaker until the next person comes along."
Original arching done around the front door, brass knobs and the enormous hearth leading up into Barker's characteristic hidden chimney all still grace the home, with even more history underneath.
"The root cellar, with all the old beams, were all kept in place, and there is even still a structure built under the fire place all those years ago that protect it from catching fire," Lincoln said. "We just figured why would you ever want to cover any of this up?"
Traced lines where previous owners had lowered the ceilings are visible in a kitchen that Lincoln is attempting to revitalize.
"It was all dark and compacted, and we're trying to make it open and bright again like it would have been back then," she said.
Lincoln said people often stop by, aware of the historical designation, to visit her farm and explore the house's old bedrooms, its cellar, and its wide open living areas.
"(Barker) was a humble man, never really talking or writing about what he did, but this home deserves the recognition," Lincoln said.