Carlson Barn in Mason County (August 2020 Calendar photo by Jim Mulvany)

One of the summer images in the 2020 MBPN Calendar is Patrick Carlson’s barn near Ludington. Its gable roof with wide front dormer is thought to be a concept Lithuanian barn builders brought to Mason County in the early 1900s. (Photo by Jim Mulvany)

Welcome to the Michigan Barn Preservation Network, a volunteer-based, statewide nonprofit dedicated to promoting appreciation, preservation, and rehabilitation of Michigan barns, farmsteads, and rural communities.

We are committed to the rehabilitation of barns for agricultural, commercial, public, and residential uses. Adapted re-use is a significant strategy for barn preservation – all structures need a reason for being.

MBPN recognized six barns and honored their owners at the  Annual Conference held Feb. 29, 2020 at MSU’s Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This year’s honorees revealed fascinating stories of tradition, family, determination, work ethic, diversity and love.

Click on the story title to read.  More about the winners is on the Barn of the Year page.

Photo collage above: (From top – 3 barns on left, 1 in center, 2 on right):

Gierok Barn, Rochester Hills, MI – Sears & Roebuck ‘Kit’ Barn: College decides to preserve, not tear down historic barn

MacKenzie Barn, Adrian MI – A Labor of Love: DIY projects give new life to family barn

Heritage Wedding Barns, Shelby, MI – Wedding Venue Business: Restoration experts relocate and rebuild a barn of their own

Buck Barn, Ludington, MI – A Tribute to Dad: Son takes on stewardship to rehabilitate family barn

Brunson Barn, Glen Arbor, MI – Historic Rural District: National Park Service, preservationists and volunteers save barn

Henry Brandt Barn, Bay City, MI – Sesquicentennial Farm: Stately double barn remains centerpiece of farmstead

Looking for someone to fix your barn?

There are people all across Michigan who do repair work on old barns. Some do historically accurate timber frame work. Some do structural reinforcement by using cables. Some specialize in installing steel roofing and siding. Many will repair anything from foundation to cupola.

Our website provides a Contractor’s List as a place for barn owners to start looking for help.

Also check out Tom Irrer’s article about finding and vetting contractors.

MBPN Annual Conference 

“Barn Art – The Rise of Rural Tourism” was the theme of the Feb. 29, 2020 event at MSU’s Kellogg Center in East Lansing. 

The 2020 conference explored Michigan barns and their uses through agriculture, family pride, tourism and rural heritage. The morning presentations focused on the potential for rural arts and culture tourism – from the contemporary art installations in Port Austin to traditional folk art seen on quilt barn trails in 28 Michigan counties. Read more about barn art on the Annual Conference page and in the pre-conference newsletter.

Gratiot Co Barn Quilt Blocks

Property Owners Share Their Journey…

The Annual Conference also featured restoration and building projects inspired by the iconic barn form.

An old barn is not only saved, but transformed into a showpiece…

After a particularly harsh winter, Colin Herren discovered his old barn was in danger of collapsing. He took initial steps to stabilize the structure (left) and eventually decided to go all out on the restoration (right). The Herren Family’s barn transformation story is featured in the Spring 2020 newsletter.

Building a Barn-inspired Cabin in the Woods

Jim Bowes and Jeanette Routhier shared the vision in their hearts as they set out to construct a vacation home modeled after a barn at the Walt Whitman birthplace. The building process involved a lot of planning, learning and dealing with unexpected glitches.  

The end product wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. But providence stepped in and gave them a bigger dream come true. See article in Summer 2020 Newsletter.

Summer 2020 Newsletter

Issue includes feature articles on “Great Michigan Barns – Upper Peninsula Style,” “Poor Farms – A Tale of Two Barns” and “Duplicating the Walt Whitman Barn,” as well as annual conference feedback and MBPN news. 

Click here to read most recent issue.

Barns symbolize positive qualities of American character: strength, honesty, endurance, security and family stability. They remind us of our heritage and help tell the story of rural life. They serve as landmarks while fulfilling the purpose for which they were originally designed, housing agricultural products and animals. With maintenance and some adaptations, they can serve us well for many years to come.

Michigan Barn Preservation Network is a member of:

 Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN)
– National Trust for Historic Preservation
National Barn Alliance (NBA)

MBPN fosters the sharing of barn experiences and resources with this website and through educational events, recognition programs, connections and collaboration.

Mission: Promoting Appreciation, Preservation and Rehabilitation of Michigan Barns, Farmsteads and Rural Communities since 1995.