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WOOSTER -- Some people enjoy their retirement years by taking up golfing.
Others enjoy taking in the sun from the deck of a boat.
"The other day, I saw two foxes playing on a downed tree," said Carlye Cebul of Wooster. "To me, that's enough."
Cebul admitted the view from the back window in her new home will afford her a perfect place from which to watch the seasons -- and the wildlife.
A new home wasn't exactly what she was looking for more than a year ago when there was a knock at her door. "I wouldn't have sought this," said Cebul, as she kept an eye on the Berlin Construction crew putting some finishing touches on the stairs that lead to the two bedrooms and bathroom on the second floor. "If John hadn't come to my door, this never would have happened."
Cebul was speaking of John Rock, owner of Bedrock Landscape and Maintenance in Wooster.
Seventeen months ago, Rock came to Cebul with a story to tell. There was a stone barn/stable on some property in Tuscarawas County. It had once served the county infirmary, but was now facing the wrecking ball as Kent State University was developing the land for its Tuscarawas County campus.
"They're going to take a ball to it," Rock said, "and throw it in a hole."
So the two of them drove to New Philadelphia to have a look. The barn was built in 1845, with huge arched windows and thick sills.
"You take it down," Cebul told Rock. "I'll find a place for it."
The crew had a week, per the university, to disassemble it. In the meantime, Cebul went back to her property and found 10 acres on the back side. The location is beautiful, but also practical. "We put it there," she said, "because I didn't have another place to put it."
But what to do with what Cebul said were "gobs of stone"?
"So, I'm old and I have a big place," she said. "I'll build it just for me, to downsize."
Cebul had a feeling it was going to cause some architect nightmares to put it all together the way she wanted it. But she knew a good one -- her brother-in-law.
She recalled telling him, "I want to put it up exactly as it was and I'm going to live in a third of it and my horses will live in two-thirds of it."
And, it a bit of understatement, Cebul said, "It did present very many, many challenges."
First, there were those gobs of rock.
Rock and his crew worked for four months to put the pieces back together, much like taking on a very big and very heavy jigsaw puzzle. Of the hundreds of pieces and parts, Cebul said, only two stones were broken -- a testament, she said, to the talent and care of the crew.
But it wasn't just stone that Cebul was reclaiming. She had the bricks from the walkways outside the barn. She had reclaimed wood she had been holding onto, waiting for a project. She had the wood from a hog barn a friend was taking down.
And she had timbers right off her own property.
"I had to have someone who was willing to work with my crazy idea," Cebul said. "I had to have someone willing to work with reclaimed materials."
There were timber framers, to be sure, but few who had worked with reframing to this extent. Then Cebul found Hickory Circle Construction in Apple Creek and the project started moving forward.
Some of the framing is newer white oak, but everything else is from 'round about. Her own timber stash "has been moved around for 40 years and it finally found its forever home," while the hog barn was on its way down anyway. "It was leaning bad," Cebul said. "It was like the Tiltin' Hilton."
Throughout the construction, Cebul has not shied away from getting her own hands dirty. She's spent many an hour pulling nails from old boards, including one eight-foot section that had 77 nails in it.
Yes, she said. She counted.
And she power washed every single one. "It's been," she said, "a journey."
One of the biggest hold-ups in this unusual project has been the windows, which had to be custom-made to fit snugly inside the large stone arches. There were six companies in the entire country who said they could craft them, Cebul said, but it turned out the a business in Sugarcreek actually pulled it off.
Now, less than 60 days from completion, Berlin Construction crews are in and out, while in-floor heating awaits its tile cover and the kitchen and bathrooms soon will be assembled.
While there's a connecting walk to the garage, the stable -- just as Cebul envisioned -- is attached.
There's a utility room, then a tack room and then the door to a six-stall stable.
"Oh, certainly not everybody would like this," Cebul said. "It's very rustic. It's very crude. It's all rather non-traditional."
But, she added, "I'm not wasting much."
Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at 330-276-1655 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She is @tamimosser on Twitter.