Never Met a Barn I Didn't Like

If you had asked me when I was a kid growing up on a Michigan farm, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said, “A writer!” It never would have occurred to me to say, “I want to help save America’s barns.” After all, barns were being used in the 1960s. They were still the heart of every farm and the soul of the nation. But that has changed and barns are a threatened treasure. There are barn organizations across the nation including some focused on a particular type of barn, Dutch barns or Mail Pouch Tobacco barns for example, or even a specific barn, such as the Thumb Octagon Barn here in Michigan. There is also a national barn organization.

Popular current themes resulting in the preservation of many barns are their reuse as meeting and wedding venues, micro-breweries and wineries, and stops on barn quilt trails.

Let’s keep the dialogue going about saving barns, sharing ideas, and working together across disciplines and organizations.

Love a barn? Save a barn!

As I speak to groups I find that many people do not realize the treasure that a heritage, timber-frame barn really is and why such a barn is worth saving. If you have, or can influence someone to keep a “real” barn in good repair, please make that commitment. When these barns are gone they are gone forever. Deep regret cannot bring them back.

In Memorium

Two Three of these barns are now gone. The remaining three two are fading fast, even though one of them in the Upper Peninsula, has been home to nesting ospreys every year for many years. Hundreds more in Michigan alone are in dire condition. Death comes when farms are split up to satisfy estates, barns are no longer used, property is acquired by the state or developers, or owners either have no financial or creative resources. Perhaps saddest of all are the barns that a simple repair could still save.


American Barns
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Make checks payable to Jan Corey Arnett.
Send to 2444 Halbert Road, Battle Creek, MI, 49017.

“You told us that a heritage barn is a treasure and you said it with such love. I have never met anyone so passionate about anything!”

I.G. Manistique

“Your enthusiasm made us see our old barn in a whole new light. We are glad we have saved it.”

Retired farm couple, northern Michigan

"You have a wonderful vocabulary and a gentle but learned and inviting voice. You made everyone feel comfortable and invited them to participate in the talk."

M.M. Battle Creek

"I could listen to you talk about barns for hours and never lose interest. I have learned so much!"

J.S. Albion

"I just love your humor!"

Retired teacher, Lansing

Barns are clearly a symbol of the American dream.... a critical reminder of the importance of our agricultural heritage….. American Barns provides an excellent snapshot of the history of the barn throughout the United States. The photos are outstanding…. a must read.

Nancy Finegood
Executive Director
Michigan Historic Preservation Network

…beautifully written… jam-packed with color photographs…. The author succinctly summarizes the various kinds, styles and uses of the barn, providing the best overall introduction to the subject I've seen. For those wanting to dig deeper, she provides a state-by-state list of “Places to Visit”, a glossary, and a bibliography. This is an exquisite book to savor and enjoy, time and time again.

Jon Shafer
American Studies Scholar & Barn Activist

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book and it made me even more aware of the barns I was passing on my trip to the States.

Roger Hunt
Award-winning British author

"An enchanting overview...that will grab any reader’s heart with its mixture of history, farming traditions, and frank discussions of preservation issues.... perfect gift...full of heart...."

Danae Peckler,
National Barn Alliance