Seven barns and their owners were awarded the “Barn of the Year” designation for 2023 at the Michigan Barn Preservation Network’s annual conference on March 4 in East Lansing. Their profiles are featured below.
The Barn of the Year Program annually honors barns that support our ongoing mission to preserve Michigan’s agricultural heritage exemplified by its barns. The awards recognize barn owners who have made the extra effort to maintain or restore historic barns.
In the past 28 years of the award’s existence, 108 Michigan barns have been recognized for their unique qualities and/or preservation efforts. Nominations for next year’s awards will open in the fall. See bottom of page for instructions.
Visit the Barn of the Year slide show displaying pictures of the 18 nominated barns — BEFORE, DURING and AFTER their transformation.
Announcing the Winners…
Location: Comstock Park, MI (Kent County)
Owners: Ebers LLP
Applicant: John Ebers
Distinguishing Features: 70 x 54, gable, shingled roof, fieldstone foundation. Very distinct cupola, hay rail & fork system
Year Built: 1883
Category: Continuing Agriculture – Family
Use: Farming, family weddings and gatherings
Pond House Farm Barn
Location: Manton, MI (Wexford County)
Owners: Jim & Theresa Williams
Distinguishing Features: Horizontal tongue & groove siding, 3 bay loft, floor joists from 8 round trees
Year Built: 1910 (store and chicken wing added later)
Category: Continuing Agriculture – Commercial
Use: Since 2003 has been a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm where produce is sold to customers who purchase a membership.
Maple Woods Farm Barn
Location: Farmington Hills, MI (Oakland County)
Owners: Lee & Floy Barthel
Applicant: Earl Baxtresser
Distinguishing Features: Two gambrel-roofed barns connected by a gable-roof barn. Board & batten construction—all painted white with shingled roofs; Ventilators atop the two end barns.
Year Built: 1916
Category: Adaptive Use – Family
Use: Originally a dairy operation, then a headquarters for a concrete construction company, it now houses the family’s “classic car” collection, a badminton court and scale-model train layout.
Location: Clinton, MI (Washtenaw County)
Owners: Robert & Lois Pawlusiak
Contractor: D & B Movers
Distinguishing Features: Italianate ornamentation, overhanging eaves, decorative corbels and tall rounded windows.
Year Built: 1885
Category: Adaptive Use – Family
Use: Horse barn converted to a cottage with bedrooms in the loft.
Location: Rochester Hills, MI (Oakland County)
Owners: Keith & Kelly Murphy
Contractor: Joe Churches of K & L Construction
Distinguishing Features: 30’ x 40’ gambrel-roofed barn built of logs and hand-hewn timber. Lean-to roof. Fieldstone applied to cement block foundation.
Year Built: 1892
Category: Adaptive Use – Family
Use: Family gathering place for celebrations and hosting events.
Location: Hopkins, MI (Allegan County)
Owners: Bryan & Danielle Howarth
Distinguishing Features: 68’ x 36’ gambrel bank barn retains much of its “historic fabric,” including the original milk house, cow stanchions in the basement, silo butting up close to the barn, original hand-hewn 10” x 10” beams, original barn wood on interior, original hay trolley.
Year Built: 1888
Category: Adaptive Use – Commercial
Use: Wedding and event venue
Location: Meridian Historical Village in Okemos, MI (Ingham County)
Owner: Meridian Charter Township
Applicant: Brad Brogren, President, Friends of Historic Meridian
Distinguishing Features: 42’ x 24’ gable roof, timber frame barn moved to township historical village in 1991.
Year Built: 1870s
Category: Adaptive Use – Non-profit
Use: Museum and public event space. School children visit to learn about early farm life.
Great Michigan Barns
All 18 submissions for 2023 Barn of the Year have been designated “Great Michigan Barns.”
CONTINUING AGRICULTURE – Family
Trails End Barn, Kalkaska (Kalkaska County)
Loudenslager Barn, Burr Oak (Kent County)
*Ebers Family Barn, Comstock Park (Kent County)
CONTINUING AGRICULTURE – Commercial
*Pond House Farm Barn, Manton (Wexford County)
Burs Wagon Shed, Cheboygan (Cheboygan County)
ADAPTIVE USE – Family
Meadowbrook Barn, Rockford (Kent County)
*Pawlusiak Barn, Clinton (Washtenaw County)
*Maple Woods Farm Barn, Farmington Hills (Oakland)
Stout Street Barn, Grosse Ile (Wayne County)
Banjolina Barn, Monroe (Monroe County)
ADAPTIVE USE – Commercial
*Murphy Barn, Rochester Hills (Oakland)
*Barn 1888, Hopkins (Allegan County)
Hidden Vineyard, Berrien Springs (Berrien County)
The Large Barn at Frugthaven Farm, Greenville (Montcalm County)
Vale Royal Barn, Fenton (Livingston County)
Garden View, Byron Center (Kent County)
Michigan Bee Barn, Comstock Park (Kent County)
Serenity Barn, Iron River (Iron County)
*Unruh Barn, Okemos (Ingham County)
*2023 Barn of the Year
A total of 108 barns from across Michigan have been recognized for their unique qualities and/or preservation efforts since the award program began in the 1990s.
Here’s How to Enter Your Barn
To be eligible, the barn must be in-use, either for continued agricultural purposes or adapted for other uses. Barns must retain their overall appearance — both in their interior and exterior barn characteristics.
Award categories cover barns that continue to be used for agriculture and those that are adapted for other uses and whether the barn is family-owned or the project of a non-profit or commercial entity.
- Continuing Agricultural Use – Family (Private), Non-Profit or Commercial
- Adapted to Other Uses – Family (Private), Non-Profit or Commercial
Nominated barns are judged on (1) completeness of information presented in the application, (2) sensitivity and integrity of repairs or modifications, (3) visual appeal, (4) creativity, (5) thoroughness of work and (6) effort expended to repair and maintain.
Four items are required for the submission:
- A completed application form
- A written narrative
- Photographs (24 maximum)
- Michigan Barn & Farmstead Survey form filled out online
Nominations for Barn of Year are now closed. The three-month window for submitting applications will start in October 2023.
Application materials may be scanned and e-mailed to: [email protected] or via a thumb drive mailed to:
MBPN Barn of Year Committee
11530 Peach Ridge Ave.
Sparta, MI 49345
For questions, contact the program chairman, Keith Anderson. E-mail: [email protected] or Mobile: 616-540-6701.