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Published: Monday, 9/22/2003

Historic farm researched for national registry status


The old Goll family homestead in Fulton County, which was threatened with demolition just two years ago, is now being researched for possible placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

The volunteer Friends of Goll Homestead, which formed in 2001 to keep the state-owned Goll home and barn standing, have solicited the help of graduate students from Eastern Michigan University's historic preservation program in filing applications for the national registry.

The students have researched the architectural heritage of the structures, which are more than 140 years old and are in the state's Goll Woods Nature Preserve, in German Township northwest of Archbold.

The now nonprofit group formed after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced plans to demolish the house and barn. The volunteers quickly got the attention of local representatives for their cause. In December, the nature preserve was awarded $200,000 for restoration of the buildings.

Nancy Strayer, assistant chief of the state's Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, said state officials will meet with volunteers during the middle of next month to discuss terms of a lease for the Friends of Goll Homestead.

Once a lease is finalized, it will be sent to the state controlling board for approval, Ms. Strayer said. After that, the home and barn would be leased to the volunteers, allowing them to collect the state money for the renovations.

Debbie Sauder David, a member of the friends group, said the movement toward an application to the National Register of Historic Places is just one of many things the volunteers are doing with the Goll homestead effort.

She said the group's goal is to establish the structures for public educational purposes. Included in that effort is the future translation of letters written in French by family members to Peter Goll, Sr., who settled in the area and built the house in 1862.

The Golls came from the Alsace region of France in 1936.

“These will add to the oral histories we've gotten,” said Ms. David, who is managing director of Sauder Village.

Kris Jemmott, Sauder Village's director of historic operations, said the letters have been scanned into a computer. But she said they're now looking for someone to translate them.

The letters were provided to the group by Martha and Don Juillard of Stryker. Mrs. Juillard is a great-great-granddaughter of Peter Goll, Sr. Her mother, Florence Goll Louys, sold the land to the state as a nature preserve in 1966.

Ms. David said a consulting engineer and barn experts have been advising the group on priorities for repair and conservation of the structures. She said she hopes structural repair could begin in the spring.

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