Annual Conference


The 2020 Annual MBPN Conference will be held on Feb. 29 at Kellogg Center in East Lansing as part of Michigan State University’s ANR Week.

Recap: 2019 Conference 

The 2019 Annual Conference, hosted by Ann Arbor-based architect and barn preservationist Chuck Bultman, was held June 1 in Ypsilanti at the Dawn Farm event barn. 

It was preceded by an Ann Arbor-area barn tour on May 31. The route through western Washtenaw County included stops at three pre-civil war barns, two late 19th century barns and an early 20th century barn. View the barns.

Conference Highlights:

Theme: Finding Resolutions for Valued Barns
The all-day session on Saturday,June 1st at Dawn Farm included the MBPN annual business meeting, the Barn of the Year awards lunch, auctions and guest speakers.

A Barn to Anchor a Sustainable Community

An expert in sustainability and green technologies for building,  speaker Matthew Grocoff shared his mission to develop truly sustainable human-built environments that are “nature rich and ecologically restorative.”

He presented his plan for Veridian at County Farm, which is slated to be the nation’s first multi-income, net-zero energy community. It will be powered by solar energy and not have any gas lines or combustion appliances.

He believes we should respect and save vernacular architecture, such as valued old barns. He intends to move a rare pre-Civil War barn (stop #2 on the tour) to the Veridian site to serve as a community center. The basement will be an education space for promoting responsible building, environmental stewardship and barn heritage.

Moving Old Barns to a New Organic Farm

Cindy Stiles presented her vision for a new organic farm in Ann Arbor Township that includes incorporating four unwanted timber-framed barns as the primary structures.

One will be used for her animals, the second for her private house, the third as a work building, and the fourth for an educational building and kitchen.

She spoke about her goals for this property, the many issues with the buildings and the challenge of getting approval from zoning boards.

The Water is Rising — Rescuing Old Barns in Time

Architect and barn preservationist Chuck Bultman, who served as Conference chair and tour curator, summed up the two-day gathering with his reflections.

The water is rising –- the time is ticking for many old barns.  It is up to us to be educated and aware, so we can help make the case for their preservation and act before it’s too late.

There are valued barns that need to be relocated because they are too close to the road or in the way of development. When the owner or municipality wants the barn gone, the rescuer must move fast. Recently Bultman had to take down a barn on very short notice.