On the eve of the birth of their grandchild (Catlyn), Jay and Annie Warmke looked out over the foothills of the Central Appalachian Mountains in Muskingum County Ohio and felt they had come home. They bought the 39-acre tract that makes up Blue Rock Station in 1993, and dreamed of creating a retreat for their extended family.
A few months later, while listening to WMNF public radio (Tampa, FL), Annie heard architect Michael Reynolds of Solar Survival in Taos, New Mexico talking about a new type of home he designed that used clean waste like old tires and bottles. He called his design an “Earthship.” The seed for Blue Rock Station had been sown.
Construction began in 1996
Construction of the original 1,650 square foot house began in 1996. During that first summer, 1,200 tires were brought in from an illegal dump site
near Roseville, OH. The tires were rammed with earth and used to create the walls of the single-family dwelling. Most of the wood used in the construction of the roof trusses and window framing was re-claimed from local barns.
Annie served as the general contractor and project manager for the building of the original structure, with Jay showing up on weekends as cheerleader and amateur carpenter. They worked on this project during summers and vacations, taking a three-year break in 2001 to move to Europe. In August, 2004 they returned to Blue Rock Station to live in the Earthship full time.
Tours and Internships
Blue Rock Station was never intended to be open to the public. But folks just kept showing up. So around 2005 Annie and Jay began hosting tours and workshops, creating the premier green living center in Ohio. Since opening to the public, over 35,000 visitors have walked through the living room of the Earthship.
In 2007 they received a call from a young woman asking if she might become an intern. That started Blue Rock Station’s internship program, bringing young people from around the globe to live, work and laugh in the foothills of the Appalachians.
The goal of Blue Rock Station is to merge engineering, art and re-use of existing materials. This is accomplished by creating buildings made out of re-used materials to demonstrate a series of alternative building techniques, including the Earthship, straw bale structures, earth bag walls, and whatever else seems to make sense at the time.
By living with the systems they create, Annie and Jay have tried to go beyond the theory of green living – finding out just what works and what does not. Through books, videos, podcasts, internship programs, workshops and tours – they hope to share a bit of what they have found out with like-minded folks across this big blue marble we call home.