Rudy R. Christian is a founding member and past president of the Timber Framers Guild and of Friends of Ohio Barns and a founding member and executive director of the Preservation Trades Network. He is also a founding member of the Traditional Timberframe Research and Advisory Group and the International Trades Education Initiative. He speaks frequently about historic conservation and also conducts educational workshops. Rudy has also published various articles, including “Conservation of Historic Building Trades: A Timber Framer’s View” in the “APT Bulletin,” Vol. XXXIII, No. 1, and his recent collaborative work with author Allen Noble, entitled “The Barn: A Symbol of Ohio,” has been published on the Internet. In November 2000, the Preservation Trades Network awarded Rudy the Askins Achievement Award for excellence in the field of historic preservation.
As president of Christian & Son, his professional work has included numerous reconstruction projects, such as the historic “Big Barn” at Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield, OH, and relocation of the 19th-century Crawford Horse Barn in Newark, OH. These projects featured “hand raisings,” which were open to the public and attracted a total of 130,000 interested spectators. He also led a crew of timber framers at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Masters of the Building Arts program, in the re-creation and raising of an 18th-century carriage house frame on the Mall in Washington, DC. Roy Underhill’s “Woodright’s Shop” filmed the event for PBS, and Roy participated in the raising.
Christian & Son’s recent work includes working with a team of specialists to relocate Thomas Edison’s #11 laboratory building from the Henry Ford Museum to West Orange, NJ, where it originally was built. During the summer of 2006, Rudy; his son, Carson; and his wife, Laura, were the lead instructors and conservation specialists for the Field School at Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village, where the 1838 timber frame grainery was restored. In July and August 2008, Rudy and Laura directed and instructed a field school in the Holy Cross historic district in New Orleans in collaboration with the University of Florida and the World Monuments Fund.
Rudy studied structural engineering at both the General Motors Institute in Flint, MI, and Akron University in Ohio. He has also studied historic compound roof layout and computer modeling at the Gewerbe Akademie in Rotweil, Germany. He is an adjunct professor at Palomar College in San Marcos, CA, and an approved workshop instructor for the Timber Framers Guild.
Saving Historic Structures Requires Compassion and Learning About the Builder