Just What the Heck is Blue Rock Station?
On the eve of the birth of their grandchild (Catlyn), Jay and Annie Warmke looked out over the wooded hills of Muskingum County and felt they had come home. They bought the 38-acre tract that makes up the Station and dreamed of one day creating a retreat for their family.
A few months later, while listening to public radio, Annie heard architect Michael Reynolds of Solar Survival in Taos, New Mexico talking about a new type of home he designed that used old tires and bottles. A living dwelling he called an “Earthship.” The seed had been sown.
Construction of the original 1,650 square foot house began in 1996. During a nine-week period, 1,200 tires were brought in from an illegal dumpsite cleaned up by the Environmental Protection Agency. They were used to create the walls of the single-family dwelling. Most of the wood used in the construction was re-claimed from local barns.
We have worked on this project during summers and vacations, taking a three-year break in 2001 to move to Europe. In August, 2004 we returned to live here and finish it up.
The addition of a 600 square foot conservatory will be completed in 2005. This room has a foundation of 75 tires. The walls are constructed of strawbale and glass bottles.
Two other wooden buildings currently on site are used as a garage, and a small barn for storage of lumber. Both of these buildings were constructed from wood taken from a deconstructed barn just outside of New Concord. The slate on the roof of the barn and the Earthship was removed from two buildings that were about to be torn down.
We are also finishing construction of a vaulted straw bale “chicken chalet” – designed to house our flock of rare breed chickens. Work is also underway (seems nothing ever is quite finished) of a vaulted strawbale “intern” chalet.
Ultimately our goal is to demonstrate a series of alternative building techniques, including the Earthship, straw bale structures, cord wood structures, and whatever else takes our fancy.
Literally hundreds of school children and thousands of adults have taken the tour so far, shaking their heads alternatively in disbelief or wonder. Mostly they come away understanding there are other ways of living other than what they see on television every day.
In addition to the buildings, tours, workshops and publications, we also intend to do some llama trekking around the beautiful hills of Southeastern Ohio, and raise some rare breed chickens.
The gardens will also be an important part of the project, as well as a plant and seed exchange festival each spring (so take that Monsanto!)