Portman, Brown, Johnson Legislation to Preserve Historic Barker House in Southeast Ohio Included in Final FY 2021 Bipartisan Funding Agreement
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) announced that the final FY 2021 bipartisan funding agreement includes their legislation to restore and protect the historic Joseph Barker Jr. House (Barker House) along the Ohio River in southern Washington County, Ohio. Specifically, the legislation will 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. The Barker House is currently 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 Barker House was originally proposed to be torn down by the Corps 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 Barker House standing to allow for the land conveyance and restoration of the house.
“If you’ve read David McCullough’s latest book, ‘The Pioneers,’ the name of Joseph Barker sounds very familiar. Barker built a home in Washington County, just outside Marietta, that became known as the Barker House. The house has been on the National Historic Registry for decades. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had jurisdiction and control over the house, had condemned and was planning to demolish it. I’ve been working for several years with Senator Portman and a group of concerned Ohio residents – Friends of the Barker House – to preserve this important part of both national and local history,” said Representative Johnson. “Everyone involved came to the table with a can-do attitude, determined to find a solution to save this historic home. The goal was accomplished earlier this year when Congress passed legislation to clear the way. Now, it’s time to get to work to restore this historical house and showcase its role in Ohio’s past.”
“The Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House are grateful to Senators Portman and Brown and Representative Johnson for their efforts to preserve this significant structure and prepare the conveyance legislation,” stated Friends of the Joseph Barker Jr. House President, Jack Haessly. “We now look forward to the next tasks for restoration and program development.”