The Kenski Farm was located just east of the intersection of Rt. 42 & Fenn Rd. in Medina. Not long ago it was fairly far out in the country several miles north of Medina Square. But in more recent years the rapid development along 42 has surrounded the farm with gas stations, a car dealership, a Chinese restaurant, a car wash, a dollar store and more. Within just a short walk dozens of other restaurants, shopping complexes of all kinds and big box stores galore can also be found. Where not so long ago farm wagons and tractors drove, semi trucks and nearly bumper to bumper traffic roars by in sight of the farm.
Now sadly the farm has seen its last days as the house, barn and out buildings are soon to be demolished to make way for other uses of the land, just as so many other fondly remembered farms have fallen along Rt. 42 and throughout Medina County.
Over the years I have often passed the farm on my way to pick up seed, fertilizer or sometimes to get planting advice (or just plain jaw) at the now shuttered Medina Farmers Exchange. Or I passed while driving to find some equipment repair piece at Bohaty’s Used Farm Equipment. I’ve often wondered at the look of the barn and its extremely steep roof. It was so out of character with every other barn I have ever seen. But, the one story house was always well painted, the fields tended and productive and the barn straight and true. From the year to year condition of the farm it seemed the Kenski’s knew what they were doing.
Now the family is long gone. The north wall of the barn has fallen, the house stands empty and forlorn and some of the siding of the back sheds flaps in the breeze. Across the entire front of the farm piles of gravel, dirt and rolls of pipe sit as trucks and bulldozers work to transform the once rich soil into additional lanes of pavement for the widening of Fenn Rd.
I was over that way the other day when I spotted a construction worker drive onto the site. I pulled in behind him and asked what was happening. He explained, then said I could go take a look at the barn. Thus my years long curiosity was finally satisfied.
I walked thru the small remaining patch of field grass, crossed the barn bridge and went inside. And there was the strangest construction I have ever seen. I wish whoever more recently “renovated” the 170+ year old barn was still living so I could ask him why he had done what he had done. I can only guess what he had in mind. I’m sure I’ll never know for positive. But it looked like some years ago the original roof must have blown off in a strong wind, or perhaps had collapsed under the weight of heavy snow. So the farmer in that generation added a second, much taller set of upright beams, made of nailed together boards. He placed them next to the original hewn beams in order to substantially raise the roof line to give it a much steeper pitch. I don’t imagine any snow ever collected on that roof again. But I also find it hard to imagine how anyone could ever climb such a steep roof to make repairs or replace the shingles. —Actually, standing in the barn gazing up at the roof, I couldn’t imagine how they even built such a steep, tall roof. Without scaffolding and a crane, it looked an impossible job.
Unfortunately, sometimes great farmers do not make the best carpenters. It’s certainly very difficult to farm and not be a fairly skilled jack of all trades. As a farmer you’d soon be out of business if you couldn’t do your own plumbing, welding, electrical work, nail pounding, painting and a thousand other jobs. Hiring for such jobs is far too expensive for most farm families. But doing work of necessity does not mean that every job is done just right. That barn is a fine example of the sometimes difficulties of being adept at everything.
The added beams were not substantial. The “new” roof ridge beams were mere boards nailed together. And none of the newer construction looks to be particularly strong. It had held for some decades, but 40 or 50 years is little compared to a century or two. It is now falling simply from the work of the wind shaking the barn, as it stands empty and unused.
After I left the barn, I crossed over towards the house. Between the two was a quite deep cistern, with a cement water trough next to it. The museum has a small cement waterer that was made by the Davis’s, probably for use by their chickens. But the Kinski trough was much larger and deeper and may have served their milk cows and horses (5 milk stanchions still hang in the bottom of the barn). I have seen many stone troughs over the years, but never so large a cement one. I decided it would make a fine addition to the museum.
Posted around the several buildings were signs saying the land now belongs to the Medina Parks. I called and was very fortunate to speak with the Park Director. I asked if it was possible to save the water trough and move it to the museum. Several days later I received the go ahead to move the trough, and it is now (with the help of the museum’s good friend, Mendy) at its new home at the museum. It’s an interesting piece, that denotes a somewhat more self-reliant time when folks built what they needed for themselves. It can be seen at the museum, standing in front of the Loyal Oak Wagon Repair Shop.
The day we picked up the trough, we took pictures of the barn and trough so there would be a record of the farm after it was gone. We also decided to take a peek in the house as the back door was hanging open.
Gertrude was the last of the Kenski’s to live there. It appeared she simply left everything behind and closed the door on many years of farm life and family. It was a bit sad really. The bird cage pole still stands in the living room. ( I have noticed that many ladies of that generation liked to keep parakeets for company.) Gertrude’s clothes still hang in several closets. The many blouses and house coats looked to have been stylish in the ’50’s. The bed still sits in it’s accustomed place. In the kitchen we noticed Gertrude’s box of sewing needles laying on the counter, while nearby were her husbands wire rim glasses. Next to the glasses was an old pamphlet concerning the many possible diseases of horses. And down in the basement there are many full half gallon canning jars waiting to be served to dinner.
And now soon, it will all disappear, just a memory of a Medina farm family.
A couple days ago I noticed words inscribed on the cement trough. We couldn’t quite read them, so we waited until after dark and showed a flashlight across the letters. In the dimmer light and shadows cast, we could make out, “J. N. Hanson, B. H. Baird, and May 1916”. It will be interesting if we can find any information about those gentlemen.