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The George Barrett Concrete House

2-4 East Main

1844 and 1853

concrete house

The Poor Man’s Home, and Rich Man’s Palace”

The George Barrett Concrete House (traditionally called the “Cement House” by Spring Valley residents) is one of the first concrete homes built in the Midwest.  George Barrett moved from New England to Spring Valley in the 1840s.  After experiencing fires in several wings of his home, he researched inflammable building materials and, with the help of a single carpenter, constructed the 2-story concrete portion of the house (the wing on the right), using river rock and concrete mortar reinforced with animal hair.  Barrett wrote a book explaining its design and construction, entitled Home for the Millions and subtitled “The Poor Man’s Home, and Rich Man’s Palace, or, the Application of the Gravel Wall Cement to the Purpose of Building”.

The Woolen Mill Image

The Woolen Mill

Using the same construction materials, Barrett constructed a woolen mill from which he shipped wool blankets on the railroad running behind the building (the current Little Miami Scenic Trail). The mill stands in the large lot behind Bledsoe Park, on the west side of Terrace Avenue.

A wave of concrete home construction followed in the Midwest in the late 1800s, but few such homes still exist; the Barrett House is one of the finest extant examples.
On the brink of condemnation in the 1990s, the Barrett House was purchased by Spring Valley ACTS; restoration is ongoing, largely through volunteer efforts. The house is individually listed on the National Registry of Historic Homes, and the Ohio Bicentennial Commission placed a marker explaining the house’s history in 2003.

A large room in the Concrete House is available for public meetings.  The museum on the first floor of the concrete wing is open during the annual Potato Festival in October and occasionally throughout the year, with displays of Spring Valley historic artifacts which are curated by ACTS on behalf of Spring Valley’s residents.  For information, use of the meeting room, or donations to the archives, contact Spring Valley ACTS, Inc., P.O. Box 26, Spring Valley, OH 45370; or call 937-862-5250.

 

 

 

 

 
 

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