About the Project

We are witnessing an explosive growth of suburban and exurban development in many parts of Michigan. Subdivisions, shopping centers, and golf courses are leapfrogging far into the countryside, extending the depth and scale of the rural-urban fringe. The loss of farms and their stately barns in Michigan mirrors a nationwide process. While preservationists recognize that not all buildings of historic merit can be saved, we fight to save representative examples so that present and future generations can visually experience these buildings and the life ways they represent.

The Michigan Barn and Farmstead Survey provides Michigan communities with an opportunity to engage in the preservation process and learn about architectural survey methods in an enjoyable community-service experience. It is important to survey and document buildings in order to preserve a record of their existence and their visual character.

Identifying historic and cultural resources also can be the first step toward preservation. Participating in the barn survey can help community members take the next steps toward preserving and using the barns in their area for continued agricultural use, educational activities, business and tourism opportunities, and other purposes.

The Michigan Barn and Farmstead Survey provides a standard survey method and a common nomenclature for Michigan barn architectural features that can be expanded for use elsewhere. Already, surveys in other states are adapting the Michigan Barn and Farmstead Survey as the basis of their own state surveys.

See: Iowa's barn survey

The Michigan State University Museum, MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, the National Barn Alliance and other preservation programs are beginning a project to collaborate with barn survey efforts across the country to build an national online barn and farmstead database. National Barn Alliance: http://www.barnalliance.org For more information about this national effort, contact:

Steve Stier, Michigan Barn Preservation Network

Links to other barn and preservation groups: