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Woodhaven History

By Leonard Oliver Nasman, copyright 2006
Woodhaven, 1987


Late in the summer of 1987 Diana and Len decided to find a piece of property that could be used for recreation and that might also be a modest real estate investment. Some folks enjoy having a cabin on a lake. In our case, we were more interested in some acreage where we could picnic and enjoy nature. We weren't really looking for a house, but that is what we found.

We explored in all directions roughly inside an hour radius drive from our home in the Columbus, Ohio area. After investigating a number of possibilities, we were drawn to the hills just inside the un-glaciated Appalachian Plateau about 75 southeast of Columbus, Ohio. One fall weekend we took a drive to a site described to us by a Real Estate Agent. The property consisted of 76 acres and included an old house that was in considerable disrepair.

After looking through the house (it was not lockable at the time) we crashed our way through the brush at the edge of the yard and headed down through the woods in search of the lake that had been mentioned by the agent. Once we got through the brush into the woods, the large trees shaded the ground and the woods was fairly open. Although we had not expected to find much of a lake in this part of Ohio, we were surprised to discover quite a large body of water where fish could be seen swimming about. (Click here for the story of Horseshoe Lake.)

The property had a large variety of trees, plants, and evidence of wildlife. We were hooked, and bought the place. After a bit of trying out the sound of different names for the place, we decided to call it Woodhaven.

Land Transactions from Perry County Records

At the Perry County Courthouse it is possible to view the original ecords of all property sales since the origin of the State. Some of the earliest records were signed by folks who could not read or write. Some names have various spellings, probably interpretations by a clerk who tried to guess a name from accented pronunciations. In some cases can be found a name followed by the notation 'her mark' and an X in place of a signature. The record for the place we call Woodhaven starts in the early 1830's. Here is what was discovered in the records.

Woodhaven Milestones

Once we purchased the property we were faced with decisions about what to do with the old house. Investigation showed that the foundation and basic structure of the house was solid, but the interior of the house was a mess. The outside also needed some serious maintenance.

The first order of business was to tighten the place up. A local contractor was located, and the old bricks were tuck-pointed (the process of replacing the exposed mortar joints between the bricks), the old windows were replaced, and a couple of new doors were installed.

The following summer, Len and Steve tore down the south porch and what had originally been a matching north porch that was being used as a bathroom. The contractor was brought back to install a proper footing for a new south porch, a bathroom, and an extension on the north side that would serve as a bedroom and that would later be attached to a garage.


The contractor provided a “weathered-in” structure (walls and roof) and Len started working on finishing the inside. This involved installing a new electrical system from the “weather head” on in to a 200 amp service entrance box, and to new wiring as each room was completed. Insulation was added to the walls, followed by wall board and plaster. A proper septic system was installed and a new well was drilled (90 feet deep) in the front yard. Len installed plumbing for the bathroom and kitchen, and worked on finishing the rooms, mostly working a few hours on weekends.

Summer weekends have been spent making the woods more accessible. Len has created a couple of miles of trails that he maintains. In the fall of 1987, most of the yard was so deep in grass that Len had to use a scythe to cut it. He has since gone through several riding mowers, and with Steve’s help, has pushed back the rose bushes and brush so that there is a nice view from the South porch down towards the meadow.

Several benches have been placed to provide places to meditate and enjoy views of the ever changing landscape.    

Since the lake is about 100 feet lower in elevation than the house, some of the trail building required many hours of digging into the hill sides using a tool called a grub hoe. This is a combination of sturdy hoe and pick axe. It is necessary for chopping through tree roots and digging through hard clay and rocks.

It is now fairly easy to walk down to the lake level at two different access points.

When you sit on the Woodhaven Bench and observe the waters of the lake occasionally being disturbed by a jumping fish, splashing beaver, or cruising goose, the noise and bustle of the city seem far away.

The kitchen is no longer the dark depressing place of 1987, but is now a good spot to share meals with visiting friends.

The south porch, although not heated, is a great passive solar collector. Only one winter has been cold enough to freeze the plants that are kept here. If December 21st is clear, the sun beams in to a point about 3 feet up on the inside wall of the porch. On June 21st, however, the sun barely gets onto the porch floor. This almost accidental feature of the south porch makes it a great place to sit and view the passing seasons nearly all year round.     

A lot of critters have been viewed from the comfortable old chairs on the south porch. Deer frequently pass through the yard. Visitors include groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels. possums, skunks, and one time a red fox. Lots of birds can be seen... from tiny hummingbirds to fat wild turkeys.

For pleasant summer afternoons, the place to be is on the front porch. By afternoon it is a shady place, and as often as not, a gentle breeze provides nature’s air conditioning. Many afternoons and evenings have been spent here waving at the friendly neighbors who drive along Dutch Ridge Road.

The original porch was beyond repair. It was falling away from the house and had a wooden floor that was deteriorating. and was too small to be useful.     

After years of parking in the yard beside the south porch, a garage was started in the fall of 1999 and was completed the following spring. The garage is large enough to hold two cars, a workshop, and a utility room that will someday include a sink and shower. Of course the problem with any empty space is that it soon is filled with stuff. (See the Woodhaven Garage Saga for details.)

Here are some of the major accomplishments in our history of Woodhaven.

Well, what started as a simple quest to find a place in the woods for hiking and picnics turned into the gradual development of a wonderful country estate. Woodhaven has seen a lot of changes since we first discovered it in 1987, and we are sure that it will see many more in years to come. Every season at Woodhaven has it’s delights and surprises, and it is hard to imagine our world without such a place.


Woodhaven, 2011

Web page copyright © 2006 by Leonard Oliver Nasman. All rights reserved.

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