By KEVIN WALKER
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Barn Preservation Network (MBPN) is getting ready to hold its 18th annual conference and meeting in East Lansing. The conference March 8-9 will feature its annual barn tour, as well as a dinner that Friday night.
Vera Wiltse, a MBPN board member, said the tour will cover nine barns in Potterville, Dimondale and the Charlotte areas, which are all in the greater Lansing area. The group conducts barn tours at other times of the year and last held one in the fall. That tour took place in the Upper Peninsula.
The tour will begin with the buses loading at 8 a.m. March 8 at the Kellogg Center, and the bus will leave at 8:30. It’s scheduled to arrive back by 5 p.m.
Among the stops will be a working Amish dairy barn that was built in the early 1960s. It replaced a barn with a large traditional style wood frame, which had burned down. Another barn scheduled for viewing is one that was almost completely destroyed by a tornado a few years ago, but has since been rebuilt.
The Marsh family barn will also be a part of the tour this year. This barn has been well taken care of over the years and is still a working structure. Another stop will be the Lundberg barn, one of the largest in that area. The farmhouse accompanying the barn has been turned into a bed-and-breakfast.
The Dimondale United Methodist Church will host the tour, which includes a catered box lunch. Coffee, tea and soda will be available. Water will also be available on the buses and are equipped with restrooms. For anyone with special dietary needs, call Dan Creyts ahead of time at 517-322-0315.
An awards dinner will take place that Friday in East Lansing, between 6-8 p.m. The exhibit room will be open Friday between 4-9 p.m. There will also be a number of sessions on various topics related to barns and barn preservation. Those will take place on March 9. The exhibits will be open that day between 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
“A couple of our sessions are focused on communities or groups that have adopted barns or are working on preserving barns,” Wiltse said. “One contractor is coming from out of state to give a presentation.”
One session, called “We Are Friends of Barns!” will include stories of successes and challenges when community groups provide stewardship of a barn. Brad Brogren of Friends of Historic Meridian, Colleen Barkham, Oakland Township Parks and Recreation commissioner, and Lisa Sokol, Orion Township operations manager, will give that presentation.
Another, called “Barns to Buildings: Tips and Tactics to Convert 19th Century Barns for 21st Century Uses,” will be given by Ann Arbor architect Chuck Bultman.
A third session will be on the Van Hoosen Farmstead, which is located in Rochester Hills, about 20 miles north of Detroit. Patrick McKay, museum supervisor for Rochester Hills, will talk about how this historic farmstead was “friended” and incorporated into the city’s educational, social and cultural way of life.
There is also a session on legal and tax issues relating to older barns, a presentation on the Michigan Barn and Farmstead Survey and others.
The cost for the entire two-day conference, including bus tour, Friday night dinner and Saturday sessions, is $90 for MBPN members and $120 for non-members. Different rates are available for anyone who wants to go on the bus tour with lunch only – first come, first served – as well as the Saturday functions only.
More registration specifics are available at the MBPN’s website at http://mibarn.net