In Marietta, Senator Portman Joins ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Access Road to Col. Joseph Barker, Jr. House

Portman Led Efforts in Congress to Preserve the House and Pass Legislation to Convey It to the Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House

December 10, 2021 | Press Releases

MARIETTA, OH – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks, Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House President Jack Haessly, Congressman Bill Johnson (OH-6) and local stakeholders at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new access road to the Colonel Joseph Barker Jr. House (Barker House) along the Ohio River in Marietta, Ohio.  Portman led efforts in Congress to preserve the house and pass legislation to convey it to the Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House so that it could be restored and made accessible to the public.

The Barker House, built around 1828, is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and was used as office space in the 1960s for the Willow Island Lock and Dam.  The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 2017, the Corps proposed to tear down the building since it is no longer in use and is in need of repair. However, following discussions with the Corps and local stakeholders, the Corps agreed to reverse its decision and leave the historic Barker House standing and to allow for land conveyance and restoration of the house.

The access road constructed by ODOT is a key step in the process allowing the site to be restored and accessible to the public.

“I was proud to join today’s ribbon cutting ceremony with the Ohio Department of Transportation Director, Jack Marchbanks and Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House President, Jack Haessly,” said Senator Portman.  “I was proud to author legislation that conveyed this house to the friends group and will allow it to be restored. I look forward to Ohioans being able to enjoy this historic landmark for generations to come.”

NOTE: Portman first visited the house in September 2018 and has actively worked to help preserve this historic home in its original location. Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor in November 2019 highlighting his work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr., House, the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, and ODOT to restore and protect the historic Joseph Barker Jr. House in southern Washington County, Ohio. The FY 2021 bipartisan funding agreement passed in December 2020 included legislation sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) to convey the Barker House and land immediately surrounding the house to the local friends group, Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House, with plans for the house to be restored and accessible to the public. 

Photos from the event are below: