Leelanau News and Events

Poor Farm Barn Rehab Project Gets A Boost (A.K.A. Two Fresh Coats Of Paint)

By Emily Tyra | Nov. 30, 2020

One of Leelanau’s landmark barns just had a big boost to its curb appeal. The backstory: Leelanau County’s Poor Farm Barn was saved from potentially being demolished and is now in the care of the Leelanau County Historic Preservation Society (LCHPS), which took on a 25-year lease for the barn (for $1.00 per year) from the county and the stewardship task of its rehabilitation

Despite delays on several projects due to COVID-19, the main floor reinforcements and other carpentry needs are complete, says President Steve Stier, barn champion and one of LCHPS’s founding members. Now with the essential stabilizing work done, the biggest visual cue to project's progress is the painting of the barn.

“The painting is a significant visual accomplishment and the largest single cost of the barn rehabilitation work,” says Barbara Siepker, LCHPS’s vice-president. “We have had 30 people donate funds to purchase 65 gallons of the 160 needed to paint the barn.”

Stier says the work was done by Fortified Coatings in Maple City, which is versed and certified in the requirements of working with lead paint. It was hand-scraped, primed and two finish coats applied. The sign was painted by Leelanau County’s Dave Manners of Good Harbor Graphics.

“The reason we went for white is that’s what everybody in the county remembers,” says Stier. “We’d get pushback if we went back to the absolute original color, which was very dark red.”

He says County Road 616 travelers checking out the Poor Farm Barn's crisp new paint job should watch for the big wreath to appear on the south end of the barn in coming days.

Leelanau's Poor Farm began when the Leelanau County board of supervisors (now commissioners) bought a Maple City farm in 1901 to house residents who could not care for themselves and provide them the opportunity to engage in meaningful agriculture and domestic work. The barn is now part of the county-owned Myles Kimmerly Recreation Area in Kasson Township.

Those interested in contributing to the Save the Poor Farm Barn campaign can send funds to Leelanau County Historic Preservation Society, Box 331, Empire MI 49630

Photo by Steve Stier

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