A few decades after the first emigrants arrived in the new settlement called “Ashland Mills”, the unique parcel of land that is the Willow Wind campus became a pioneer ranch.
Historical records list Henry and Harriet Carter, a prominent family in Ashland’s early days, as the first owners of the property in 1884. In 1897, the ranch was sold to another prominent Ashland settler, Charles Abbott. Mr. Abbott built the Victorian farmhouse that still stands as well as the large timber frame barn.
The stones used for the foundation of the barn were taken from a quarry located on the southeast corner of the ranch. The wood for the barns large timber frame was harvested from the mountains surrounding Ashland and milled locally. The barn was constructed using timber framing; the method of creating framed structures of heavy timber jointed together with pegged mortise and tenon joints. The barn housed cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and other animals.
After World War I, the property changed ownership a number of times. From 1932 to the 1970’s, the Inlow family lived on the ranch. Initially, the Inlow’s used the barn primarily to house their dairy cows and pigs. The working dairy barn was later converted by the Inlow’s into a more horse friendly shelter that included a large foaling stall.
The property was sold to the Ochs family in 1977. It was here that the Ochs raised their children and established and ran the Chautauqua Ranch School. The barn was used to house the family and schools cattle, sheep, horses, llamas, and rabbits.
To ensure the rural beauty of the property be maintained the Ochs resisted many requests to subdivide the property and were instrumental in getting the property rezoned for ‘Exclusive Farm Use’ and placed outside the Urban Growth Boundary of Ashland.
The property was sold to the Waldorf School in 1995, but was soon placed back on the market. Willow Wind Community Learning Center was soon established on the property and the Ashland School District purchased the property in 1999. The barn was no longer used to house animals, but became a rarely used storage space.
With the insight of faculty, staff, students, parents, families, and the Ashland community the campaign to restore and renovate the barn into a functional space began.