National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
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Barn Restoration Workshops

Description: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Michigan Barn Preservation Network (MBPN) have collaborated since 1997, offering free public barn building workshops. Seven workshops have been held over the past five years.

Training sessions cover the repair of vernacular structures with traditional tools. Past attendees and the MBPN requested that the 2003 workshop cover various forms of framing including hewn timbers, log construction, and the use of rough sawn lumber. These sessions are in high demand within the National Park Service and there are large waiting lists for those interested in attending.

Geographic area covered: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses 71,000 acres with 64 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline spreading throughout two counties, including 8 townships, 2 villages and 2 islands, North and South Manitou.

The Lakeshore is within an easy one day drive of several major population centers of the Midwest including Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland. Twenty million citizens live within a 400-mile distance of the area. Annual visitation exceeds 1.1 million.

List of partners and relationships: Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (PHSB), MBPN, local businesses, Friends of Sleeping Bear and Michigan Works.

Accomplishments to date: Some of the barns benefiting from past workshops are the Klett, Brunson, Lawr, and Beck barns.

Local newspapers, television, and radio stations have covered these events. Participants often have questions concerning a barn project at their home. Public participation opportunities foster good neighbors and support in the local community.

Starting in 2001 the National Park Service supplemented the existing public workshops with a grant that expanded these workshops adding four NPS barn restoration workshop days prior to the public workshop weekend. This more complex and technical training enhances the skills of park employees and other skilled trade workers with barn preservation responsibilities.

Participation of the Barn Preservation Network, the NPS Midwest Region, PHSB, the media, and attendees stimulates interest in the park, partner organizations, and barn preservation projects. Considerable additional volunteer support has followed from these workshops such as the volunteer work done by a private contractor on South Manitou Island.

Key success factors:

1. Continuity of format from one year to the next.
2. Variety of skills and topics presented.

Frustrations: As is often the case with evolving direction of an organization, policy and regulations lag behind an articulated mission and goals. Procurement and agreement regulations in particular are slow to evolve to provide the needed flexibility for working with partners.

Most important lessons learned to date: Understanding that partnerships require shared responsibility, different approaches and changes to the "government" way of doing business.

What would you do differently next time: It would be helpful to have a resource that provides an acceptable range of capabilities for common issues such as liability insurance and procurement of everything from cranes to lunches.

Suggested resource materials:

Auer, Michael J. "The Preservation of Historic Barns." Preservation Briefs 20. U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, Preservation Assistance Division. (October, 1989).

Goodall, Harrison. Log Structures: Preservation and Problem Solving. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1980.

Whitaker, James H. Agricultural Buildings and Structures. Reston, VA: Reston Publishing Co., 1979.

For more information:

Name: Tom Ulrich
Affiliation: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Phone/Fax: 231-326-5134, ext. 112 or 231-324-5134, ext. 112

Name: Lee B. Jameson
Affiliation: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Phone/Fax: 231-326-5134, ext. 500

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements __; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services __; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism __; Community Relations _X_;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Tom Ulrich Date posted: 8/6/03
Phone: 231-325-5134, ext. 112

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