By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- A barn returns.
An area couples passion for the restoration of an area landmark barn was recently honored statewide.
Last May, David and Kathleen Mayo earned the 2018 Michigan Barn of the Year Award for their exceptional restoration of an 1880s barn on their township farm.
“We had been looking for just the right farm for about 10 years,” said David Mayo. “We had wanted a dirt road and water but never found the right combination that fit our needs.”
The 40 acre township farm included a home, carriage house and the 30 foot by 70 foot barn. The couple who both work in the medical profession, purchased the township farm about three years ago.
The barn was one of five barns in three categories recognized at the 23rd annual Michigan Barn Preservation Network (MBPN) conference. There were 81 barn submissions vying for the 2018 Barns of the Year Awards at the AgroLiquid Conference Center in St. Johns.
“The original farm house was destroyed by fire in 1971,” he said. “But the original gable roof barn was still standing. Our goal was to keep it as close as possible to what it was like 130 years ago. The craftsmanship and the way the joints fit together are just remarkable. The big problem was the field stone foundation wall was crumbling. You could push it over due to mortar issues. But, we kept all the stone, which we assume came from the fields around the farm.”
The barn has five bays for cattle in the lower level—three original while two were added in the 1950s.
“There was plenty of room in the top to store hay, a grainery on the main floor then livestock in the bottom,” he said. “We just love the craftsmanship. The beams have saw and plane marks still etched on the surface. There’s even some bark on the wood in places.”
The historic reconstruction of the barn was supervised by Dean Sutton of Michigan based-JDS Historical.
“His input was consistent with history,” added David.
So far the family has hosted two receptions in the old barn.
“We are very happy to keep a part of history on the community,” he said.
The Barn of the Year program annually honors existing Michigan barns that exemplify outstanding character in our state. Nominated barns must have been built at least 60 years ago and continue in use, either for its original purpose in agriculture, or as is becoming increasingly popular, adapted to some other useful purpose. Barns, though used for other purposes, must retain their overall appearance—both interior and exterior characteristics. Nominations, which are open to the public, are reviewed and determined by MBPN’s Awards Committee members and announced to the barn owners at the MBPN annual conference in the spring.