Bell Tower Farm part of Christmas Tour of Homes

Bell Tower Farm part of Christmas Tour of Homes

Image Credit: Teri Stein

Kyle and Chinelle Albaugh are the newest keepers of the history at the Bell Tower Farm, located off Fort Laurens Road between Bolivar and Strasburg. The home is the featured home this year on the Tuscarawas County Heritage Home Association Christmas Tour of Homes.

The home is visible from I-77, and in addition to its long history, the home was a shooting location for the movie, “OHMS,” from 1980.

In addition to outside shots of the home as the governor’s house being used, actors Leslie Neilsen, who played the governor, and Ralph Waite filmed a scene in the dining room of the home.

The Albaugh family are only the sixth family to live in the home since it was built around 1820 with an addition added around 1851-55. The home has a working bell tower cupola. The original owner of the home was John C. Zutavern, a wheat farmer who shipped his crop via the Ohio & Erie Canal to Cleveland.

The couple now there said they have always admired the home. Chinelle Albaugh is a former resident of Strasburg, and Kyle Albaugh is from the Bolivar area.

“When we were dating, we used to drive by this house and just stare at it. We never imagined we would be living in it someday,” Kyle Albaugh said.

Kyle Albaugh was acquainted with Bill Emley, who along with his wife, Chris, were the home’s previous owners.

“They had done a fantastic job of, as long as they owned the home, preserving it,” Kyle Albaugh said. “And I don’t think they necessarily just wanted anyone to buy it. They wanted somebody that’s preservation minded. They were gracious enough to let us tour the home. We were able to come to an agreement, and we’ve just been thrilled ever since.”

Kyle Albaugh said he was warned about the pitfalls of owning a two-century-old home. It’s very much like having a part-time job, but the couple is willing to put in the work.

“We just hope that we can preserve it for the next generation,” Kyle Albaugh said.

The home was one of the area’s original plaqued Heritage Homes in 1976.

The home was made from materials found on the farm including its original oak plank floors. The bricks were made onsite, and the corner stones for the basement came from a nearby quarry.

The first floor of the home includes a kitchen, dining room, parlor, living room and craft room for the children. Near the stairway is the rope that rings the bell in the cupola of the home, which the Albaughs said they like to ring as much as their children.

The home also has 18-inch-thick walls.

“Whatever the season is, it retains that season for a month or two after that weather changes because it just takes a long time for that cold air or hot air to penetrate the bricks,” Kyle Albaugh said.

The couple’s favorite part of their Italianate-style home is the history. They have an antique tobacco display case just inside the main door to display artifacts they have found on the property and historical information.

Above the case hangs a large graphite drawing of the Bell Tower Farm by famous artist Ferdinand Brader. The picture has been hanging in the foyer of the home since about 1885.

Brader was a Swiss immigrant and itinerant artist who stayed in Stark County from around the 1880s to 1890s and made a living by drawing area farms. Later Brader returned to Switzerland, where he disappeared sometime before the 1900s.

As with the Bell Tower Farms drawing, Brader’s works are drawn in an aerial view of the properties.

“He did this with amazing detail. And he would have been standing over by Route 77 for about three days’ time and penciled in this picture and then would have presented it to Zutavern, who would have bought the picture off him,” Kyle Albaugh said.

Brader’s work is important because without it there is no record of some of the original area farms.

The Albaughs are excited to show off their home at this year’s Christmas Tour of Homes.

“When we purchased the home, we also took a sense of responsibility for the home to preserve it and to keep it as original as we possibly can,” Chinelle Albaugh said. “It’s just fun to share with people and be able to live in a part of history because we live in a home that’s 202 years old.”

A limited number of tickets are on sale through the Heritage Home website at www.tuschha.org, at the Geib Funeral Homes of Dover and New Philadelphia, the First National Bank’s Dennison location only, Pam’s Posies at 732 Boulevard St. in Dover, and the Zoar Store at 198 Main St. in Zoar. Tickets are $15 presale and $20 at the doors.